BC Coroners Service revises plans for mill-explosion inquests

Two separate inquests will now be held, one in Prince George and one in Burns Lake

BC Coroners Service

The BC Coroners Service has announced revisions to its plans for inquests into the deaths of four workers who died in two sawmill explosions in 2012.

Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe announced last August that the deaths from the two explosions would all be examined in a single inquest to begin March 2, 2015, in Prince George.

On consideration of further information provided and presentations from the families, survivors, communities and inquest participants, two separate inquests will now be held:

One in Prince George to examine the circumstances of the deaths arising from the explosion at the Lakeland Mills Ltd. Sawmill.

One in Burns Lake to examine the circumstances of the deaths that occurred in the explosion at the Babine Forest Products sawmill.

Robert Luggi Jr., aged 45, and Carl Charlie, aged 42, were killed in the Burns Lake explosion on Jan. 20, 2012. Alan Little, aged 43, andGlenn Roche, aged 46, died as a result of the Lakeland Mills blast on April 23 of the same year.

Lapointe has noted that it is a long-held tenet of the BC Coroners Service to conduct its investigations and hold inquests to assure communities that the deaths of not one of their members will be concealed, overlooked or ignored. The Burns Lake community has argued eloquently that it has a powerful interest in hearing first-hand the information about the explosion that took place in their community. Lapointe has concluded that those community needs outweigh what advantages there might be in combining the two inquests.

The inquest into the Lakeland Mills deaths will proceed as scheduled at the Prince George courthouse on March 2, 2015.

The inquest into the Babine Forest Products mill deaths will begin on July 13, 2015, at the Island Gospel Fellowship Hall in Burns Lake. Presiding over that inquest will be Chico Newell, resource industry coroner for the BC Coroners Service.