Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Second Officer Handed off Navigation in Clear Weather before Ferry Crashed:trial

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Second Officer Handed off Navigation in Clear Weather before Ferry Crashed:trial

Article excerpt

Second Officer describes B.C. ferry sinking

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VANCOUVER - First came an unusually loud noise, and then the boat rocked, but the colours of the passenger ferry's radar screen are what Kevin Hilton recalls most vividly.

The Second Officer on the Queen of the North remembers rushing from a meal in the officers' lounge to the bridge and spotting evidence that the vessel had crashed.

"I could see on the radar there was a lot of red," Hilton told B.C. Supreme Court on Monday, explaining red on the screen represents land.

"I could see the ship was right up against the red. We had run aground," he said of the incident just after midnight on March 22, 2006, when the vessel missed a critical turn while sailing down B.C.'s Inside Passage and struck Gil Island.

Hilton's testimony about the sinking of the BC Ferries vessel off the northwest coast of British Columbia came during the trial of Karl Lilgert, who is accused of criminal negligence causing the deaths of two passengers who were missing and presumed drowned.

In halting words, he described arriving at the deck and hearing quartermaster Karen Bricker tell him to "Come quickly, something terrible has happened."

He also saw Lilgert, the Fourth Officer, who earlier that night had traded off responsibilities with him for navigating the ship.

Hilton told court he was surprised that Lilgert had returned to the bridge early from a break, not long after his former lover Karen Bricker arrived there for her role as quartermaster.

Court has heard Lilgert and Bricker were working alone together for the first time since their affair had ended.

The defence argues the crash was caused by poor training, bad policies and unreliable equipment.

Hilton said that as he arrived he didn't see anyone standing at either of the two steering wheels, nor any charts on a table for navigational purposes.

Within just over a minute, he was radioing the ship's position to marine traffic controllers. …

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