RCMP Probe of Lakeland Explosion Took Less Than 3 Days
Prince George, B.C.- The Prince George RCMP investigation into the explosion and fire that left two people dead, 22 injured and leveled the mill on River Road on April 23, 2012, took just 2 and a half days.
Sergeant Holly Lavin has testified at the Coroner’s inquest into the deaths of Glenn Roche and Alan Little the investigation focused on interviews with 13 workers who were in the mill at the time of the blast, interviews with WorkSafeBC and the Prince George Fire Rescue Fire Prevention Officer.
When asked if the RCMP could reopen their investigation if new information surfaced, Sgt. Lavin said “I think if there was important information we would have been notified.” Sgt. Lavin said she never received a final report from WorkSafeBC or the BC Safety Authority. She also admitted that while the RCMP has explosives experts “I didn’t think to contact them.”
Later testimony from RCMP Inspector Terry Kohlhauser, the District Senior Investigation Officer for the south east district of B.C. said while he was not party to the Lakeland investigation by the RCMP, it is possible such a probe could be concluded in that time frame.
Things are much different now, said Inspector Kohlhauser, all workplace fatalities are investigated by the RCMP as section 217(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada (the section known as the Westray Amendment) “is definitely on our radar”.
Section 217(1) reads: Every one who undertakes, or has the authority, to direct how another person does work or performs a task is under a legal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm to that person, or any other person, arising from that work or task.
He testified the RCMP have not yet had an investigation under section 217(1) where foul play could be determined.*
Inspector Kohlhauser confirmed it is the Crown that makes the decision on whether or not charges will be persued, and the likelihood of conviction. He also confirmed RCMP investigate criminal code offences only, they do not investigate regulatory issues.
The inquest continues
Inspector Kohlhauser does not speak on behalf of the entire RCMP and clarifies he was only making a reference to his own investigation history.