Trial begins for P.E.I. fishing captain accused of criminal negligence causing death

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Clarence White walks to P.E.I. Supreme Court in Charlottetown on Tuesday. (Brian Higgins/CBC - image credit)
Clarence White walks to P.E.I. Supreme Court in Charlottetown on Tuesday. (Brian Higgins/CBC - image credit)

The trial began Tuesday for a fishing captain accused of criminal negligence in a boat collision that killed two people.

Clarence (Chuck) Barry White, 52, has pleaded not guilty in connection with the crash about nine kilometres from the shore of Beach Point, P.E.I.

White was captain of the fishing boat Forever Chasin' Tail. It collided with another fishing boat, Joel '98, in June 2018.

The Joel '98 sank, and two people on board died: Justin MacKay, 20, of Montague, P.E.I., and Chris Melanson, 59, of Weymouth, N.S.

White is charged with two counts of criminal negligence in the operation of a vessel, causing the two deaths.

About 17 witnesses are expected to testify during the trial, including a technical expert who will talk about the auto-pilot technology that investigators say White was using at the time of the collision.

Chris Melanson, 59, of Weymouth, N.S., and Justin MacKay, 20, of Montague, P.E.I., died in a boating collision in 2018.
Chris Melanson, 59, of Weymouth, N.S., and Justin MacKay, 20, of Montague, P.E.I., died in a boating collision in 2018. (Submitted by Krista Grady/Ferguson-Logan Funeral Home)

Court heard Tuesday from the captain of the Joel '98, Judson Crossman, who is the uncle of MacKay. Crossman told court MacKay had been fishing as a paid crew member for about three weeks, after finishing high school in Montague.

Crossman testified that he and his two-member crew interrupted their work to go back to shore to pick up two passengers, Melanson and his adult daughter.

This trial is slated to run two weeks.

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