Expert to testify at Yukon carbon monoxide deaths inquest

A Yukon coroner's inquest into the death of a Whitehorse family from carbon monoxide poisoning adjourned on Thursday so that family members of the deceased could call an expert witness to testify.

Bradley Rusk, 45, his wife Valerie, 37, along with their children Gabriel, 13, and Rebekah, 11, died in their Porter Creek home in January 2012. Donald McNamee, a 47-year-old boarder who lived in the home, also died.

A faulty chimney was to blame, according to fire officials that investigated the scene. All five people died from carbon monoxide poisoning, according to a preliminary report.

Rod Corea, who has been called to testify by surviving members of the Rusk family, helped write the current building codes on oil-fired heaters and worked on several reports on oil burner safety for the Yukon government.

In a report given to the territorial government two years prior to the incident, Corea warned it would only be a matter of time before something like this happened unless safety standards were improved.

After looking at hundreds of oil-fired boilers and furnaces in the territory, Corea found that only about one per cent would have passed thorough inspections.

"Hopefully you will be able to take action to improve them in very short order before something unfortunate happens," Corea stated at the end of his report.

Now, the surviving members of the Rusk family want to ask Corea about his remarks and his report.

He is expected to testify Friday at the inquest, before the matter is given to the jury, which will be tasked with issuing any recommendations they feel could prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future.

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