No Justice – Say Families of Lakeland Explosion Victims
Rhonda Roche reads from a prepared statement – photo 250News
Prince George, B.C.- For John Little, father of Allan Little who died as a result of injuries sustained in the Lakeland explosion in April of 2012, the Coroner’s inquest failed to find any accountability for his son’s death.
The Coroner’s jury found the death of Allan Little and Glenn Roche to be accidental, and presented 33 recommendations to prevent such a tragedy from recurring. “If accountability wasn’t determined, then justice wasn’t served” says John Little. He added that “Hopefully with the recommendations that were made, the workers in the future will work in a safer environment than has been in the past and other families won’t have to go through what we went through. It’s probably wishful thining but I don’t think that’s true.”
He says nothing short of a public inquiry would have put this matter to rest “That’s what we asked for in the beginning and that’s what it should have been.”
The widow of Glenn Roche, Rhonda, read from a prepared statement and she too wished there had been a public inquiry “I don’t believe this was the appropriate venue, as no matter what facts are uncovered, there is no accountability no knowledge and no justice is acquired.” She says the evidence helped “fill in the blanks” of what happened on the night her husband suffered burns to 90%of his body, injuries that would take his life.
“This is now public record and I believe the facts speak for themselves they show part of the systematic failures, and do point out the parties responsible for my husband Glenn’s death, the death of Al Little and the injuries to many of the other workers It is unfortunate these proceedings do not assign fault or accountability.”
A coroner’s inquest cannot find blame for an incident, it can only determine the location, date and time of a death and make a ruling as to whether the death was natural, suicide, homicide, accidental or undetermined. The jury can make recommendations to try to prevent such deaths in the future.
The jury made 33 recommendations which call for changes in the way incidents are reported to WorkSafe B.C., how emergency services respond to major incidents, how such incidents are investigated, and ways to improve the culture of safety in the workplace through the sharing of safety committee minutes and stressing a worker’s rights to refuse work if they believe there are safety concerns. (Complete recommendations can be found here)
“It has been an emotional journey for myself, my family and the injured workers” said Rhonda Roche who expressed some hope “We can all hope that from the recommendations provided at this inquest that they will be implemented,” who added “To ensure that at the end of the day workers may get home to their families.” She told reporters that perhaps if she had heard from Lakeland that the company was sorry that this happened instead of “I’m sorry for your loss”, that she might have found closure.
“We are truly thankful for the recommendations that are directed to us” says WorkSafe BC spokesperson Trish Knight Chernecki “We will take them seriously and examine them carefully.”
Coroner’s Counsel , John Orr, says although the recommendations are not binding, the Coroner’s Service has seen compliance when previous recommendations have been made “Generally they (recommendations) are very effective” he says the Coroner’s Service follows up to see what’s happening with the recommendations “We always get responses back, people are responsive to recommendations to a Coroner’s Inquest and historically, they’ve made amazing changes in society.”
Sinclar Group President Greg Stewart ( in photo at right) offered thanks to the jury members for their “service to the community and their desire to help out with this matter, the recommendations I think are good, so obviously we’ve just received all the recommendations and we will take some time to review them, but I certainly do believe they will move us toward a safer industry and a safer province.”
“I am incredibly sorry this event has happened” said Stewart ” My heart goes out to the families as well as to the injured employees and their families and the hardship that’s resulted from this. I hope somewhere down the future we can get closure, I’m not so sure that closure will come from an event ( inquest) like this.”