POLITICS

Significant dates related to the Queen of the North ferry sinking

05/13/2013 08:08 EDT | Updated 07/13/2013 05:12 EDT
VANCOUVER - Navigating officer Karl Lilgert has been convicted of criminal negligence for his role in the sinking of the Queen of the North. A timeline of key events in the case:

September 2005: Karl Lilgert, a deckhand with BC Ferries who would often fill in as a navigating officer, starts a sexual affair with fellow quartermaster Karen Briker. Both are in common-law relationships with other partners.

February or early March 2006: Lilgert and Briker's affair ends. Briker's spouse catches wind of the affair earlier in the year, and eventually tells Lilgert's spouse.

March 15, 2006: Lilgert and Briker come on shift aboard the Queen of the North passenger ferry, which at the time is docked in Prince Rupert, on British Columbia's northern coast.

March 21: The Queen of the North departs Prince Rupert on schedule at approximately 8 p.m. carrying 101 passengers and crew, including Gerald Foisy and Shirley Rosette. The voyage proceeds without incident, and passengers report the weather and seas are calm. Lilgert and Briker come onto the bridge — Lilgert as navigating officer and Briker as a quartermaster — shortly before midnight.

The early morning of March 22: A few minutes past 12 a.m., the Queen of the North misses a scheduled left turn as it enters a body of water known as Wright Sound. At 12:22 a.m., the ferry collides with Gil Island, ripping into its hull and causing the ship to take on water. The collision prompts an immediate evacuation into life rafts and life boats. The ferry sinks entirely below the surface about an hour and a half after the initial impact.

March 22: Residents of the nearby fishing community of Hartley Bay are among the vessels that respond to the Queen of the North's mayday call. Most of the surviving passengers are taken to the community, where they are met with blankets, hot drinks and food at the local cultural centre, while most of the crew end up on the coast guard ship Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Several crew members, including Briker and Lilgert, are transported by helicopter to Prince Rupert in the morning. The remaining passengers and crew arrive in Prince Rupert aboard the Sir Wilfrid Laurier later in the day. By the end of the day, it's clear that two passengers are unaccounted for, and photos of Foisy and Rosette are circulated among the survivors and among the news media while a search of the area around the sinking is conducted.

March 23: BC Ferries president David Hahn concedes Foisy and Rosette are likely dead, saying "It's more looking for bodies at this point." He says because the ferry is 400 metres below the surface, it's unlikely bodies will be recovered if they are still inside the ship.

March 27: Passengers Alexander and Maria Kotai file a class-action lawsuit against BC Ferries on behalf of the ship's surviving passengers.

April 20: Then-premier Gordon Campbell visits the community of Hartley Bay to thank residents for their "remarkable generosity and compassion" as they responded to the sinking.

May 11: A lawsuit is filed on behalf of Foisy's two daughters, Brittni and Morgan. Brittni was 16 years old at the time of the sinking and Morgan was 13.

Dec. 19: The MV Sonia arrives in B.C. to replace the Queen of the North. The ship was originally built in Greece and sailed in Spain before it was purchased by BC Ferries and renamed the Northern Adventure. It makes its first passenger trip on March 31, 2007.

January 2007: BC Ferries fires Colin Henthorne, who was captain of the Queen of the North the night it sank.

March 26: BC Ferries releases its own internal report into the sinking. The report concludes "human factors" caused the crash, but doesn't speculate about why Lilgert missed the turn. The report makes 31 recommendations including better training.

May 4: BC Ferries announces it has fired Lilgert, Briker and the Queen of the North's fourth officer, Keven Hilton.

June 29: The children of Shirley Rosette, Brandon and Brent, file a lawsuit against BC Ferries.

Oct. 3: BC Ferries releases an addendum to its original report, saying two crew members reported Briker telling them she was alone when the ferry hit the island. BC Ferries describes the information as "credible," but the Transportation Safety Board later rejects that information and concludes both Lilgert and Briker were on the bridge.

March 12, 2008: The Transportation Safety Board releases its report into the sinking, concluding Lilgert missed the turn because he was distracted by a number of factors, including a "conversation of a personal nature" with Briker. It also concluded Lilgert and Briker failed to follow the "basic principles of safe navigation."

Nov. 3: The B.C. Supreme Court upholds BC Ferries' decision to fire Lilgert and Hilton.

January 2009: Rosette's children settle their lawsuit with BC Ferries for an undisclosed amount of money.

Aug. 19: Foisy's children settle their lawsuit with BC Ferries for a total of $200,000, with almost $40,000 of that going toward legal fees.

Oct. 15: Three passengers who were not a part of the class-action lawsuit are awarded damages of $500, $7,500 and $14,000.

March 16, 2010: Karl Lilgert is charged with two counts of criminal negligence causing death.

July 22: The passengers involved in the class-action lawsuit against BC Ferries announce a settlement worth $354,000, including $213,000 to pay lawyers' fees and other costs associated with the case. The settlement included a range of payments for more than 40 people, ranging from $500 to as high as $35,000.

Nov. 24, 2011: The B.C. Court of Appeal upholds BC Ferries' decision to fire Henthorne, the ferry's captain. Henthorne's firing was initially overturned by the province's workers' compensation board, reinstated by a tribunal, and then upheld by the B.C. Supreme Court.

Jan 17. 2013: Lilgert's trial begins in front of a B.C. Supreme Court jury in Vancouver.

May 13, 2013: Lilgert is convicted of criminal negligence causing death.