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Coroners testify at day 2 of Babine Inquest

The second day of the coroner’s inquest into the explosion at the Babine Forest Product’s mill in Burns Lake saw a testy exchange between WorkSafe B.C.’s lead investigator and counsel for Babine Forest Products.

William Smart questioned whether Paul Orr was qualified to lead the investigation in such a large and complex case as the Babine mill explosion, he also questioned some of Orr’s statements in his incident investigation report for WorkSafe B.C.

During Smart’s questioning, he became clearly frustrated as many of his question raised objections from inquest counsel John Orr and counsel for WorkSafe B.C., Ben Parkin, as well as the presiding coroner himself, Chico Newell.

Counsel for the United Steelworkers, Craig Bavis, as well as Smart, both questioned WorkSafe B.C.’s investigative techniques, as they have been widely criticized for not meeting Charter standards, and wouldn’t have stood up to scrutiny had criminal charges been laid.

Jim McBride, the Burns Lake fire chief, also testified Tuesday.

He described how the fire was burning so badly on the north side of the mill when they arrived on the scene, that he didn’t risk any of his firefighters to try and stop the blaze at that end of the mill.

The most heartbreaking moment in the day’s testimony came when members of the B.C. Coroners Service testified.

Donita Kuzma spoke of searching through still smoldering wreckage searching for the remains of Robert Luggi and Carl Charlie.

Dr. Bill Inkster told jurors how the late Dr. Hodges used extremely damaged dental remains to identify the workers.

Just as Dr. Inkster was about to leave the stand, Maureen Luggi, passed a note to inquest counsel, John Orr.

Orr then asked Dr. Inkster if he could ask one last question.  He then asked the doctor, if he knew how the men died.

Dr. Inkster replied that he couldn’t determine their last moments, but given the catastrophic nature of the explosion, he was certain the men perished quickly.

About Gene Law

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