The owners of a tugboat that sank near Kitimat, B.C., killing two, have been fined a total of $310,000 at a sentencing hearing in Prince Rupert.
James Geoffrey Bates pleaded guilty earlier this year to one of eight charges he was personally facing under the occupational health and safety provisions of the Workers Compensation Act.
On Thursday, Bates was fined $15,000 by Judge Nina Purewal for failing to provide workers with necessary information, instruction, training and supervision. He was also handed 100 hours of community service.
His company, Wainwright Marine, pleaded guilty to three of eight charges. It was sentenced to three fines amounting to $295,000. The remaining charges were earlier stayed by Crown.
Captain Troy Pearson, 58, and deckhand Charley Cragg, 25, died on Feb. 10, 2021, when the tugboat Ingenika sank in rough weather trying to tow a loaded barge through the frigid waters of the Gardner Canal. It was Cragg's first day on the job and he had received no training.
A third crewman, Zac Dolan, made it to a life raft and was rescued hours later. He was hospitalized for hypothermia and frostbite.
A Transportation Safety Board report said Pearson and Cragg drowned because their immersion suits were only partially done up. An unzipped immersion suit can take on water, restricting movement and increasing the chance of hypothermia.
The report said the crew had not practiced with any of the safety equipment.
Judy Carlick Pearson is the widow of Troy Pearson, who died in the Ingenika sinking. (Matt Allen/CBC)
Cragg's mother said the sentencing hearing left her feeling unsatisfied.
"What I hold on to is that James Bates and Wainwright Marine admitted their guilt," said Genevieve Cragg.
"We know that this fine of $310,000 and 100 hours of service work is because [Charley] was a worker. Yet if he was a passenger, it would have been completely different. So it's like a worker's life isn't as valuable as a passenger."
Speaking outside the Prince Rupert courthouse, widow Judy Carlick Pearson said the loss of her husband Troy had been particularly hard on their son.
"I don't think there will ever be a point where we move on," she said. "I really pray that James Bates realizes how much this has hurt our families."
Purewal agreed to a joint submission from Crown and defence for "a more creative and restorative plan" that will see the money from the fines directed to a "meaningful cause." The submission was agreed to by the Cragg and Pearson families.
The hearing was adjourned until January to give both sides time to come up with a plan for the funds.
Last fall, Transport Canada handed Wainwright Marine a $52,000 fine after finding that the Prince Rupert, B.C., company failed to ensure the vessel was staffed with a sufficient and competent crew, and did not make sure those employed on board held certificates for their positions.
Bates Properties, the parent company of Wainwright Marine, was also fined $10,000 for failing to ensure the vessel met regulatory requirements.