NEWS

Queen of the North officer says he altered course to avoid boat

04/24/2013 09:03 EDT | Updated 06/24/2013 05:12 EDT
The man in charge of the Queen of the North the night it sank testified he made a course alteration to stay away from a small vessel he spotted nearby, but can't recall ever mentioning the vessel to anyone else on the ship's bridge.

Karl Lilgert is on trial for two counts of criminal negligence after two passengers were presumed to have died when the BC Ferries vessel sunk in March 2006 south of Prince Rupert.

On Wednesday, at his trial underway in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, Lilgert testified he made a course correction just after entering Wright Sound.

Then, he says he spotted a target on his radar that indicated there was a small boat on his port side heading away from the larger ferry. Lilgert says he even saw that boat's light in the darkness.

He testified he made a second course change to steer clear of that vessel — a course that was supposed to keep the ferry at least three-tenths of a mile from any land.

Then Lilgert says, he lost sight of Gil Island on the radar just before impact due to clutter from a squall they encountered.

But the court heard evidence earlier in the trial that there was no log entry or electronic record of that second course change

Under questioning from the Crown, Lilgert couldn't recall ever mentioning that second boat to anyone, and when the ferry struck Gil Island shortly afterwards and put out a distress call, the vessel that was seen only by Lilgert, never came to the aid of the stricken ferry.

During his testimony Lilgert admitted he was responsible for the lives of those onboard while he was in control on the bridge. He is expected to resume testifying tomorrow.

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