Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Retired Manitoba Soldier Offers 'Sorrow, Regret' to Family of Dead Colleague

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Retired Manitoba Soldier Offers 'Sorrow, Regret' to Family of Dead Colleague

Article excerpt

Soldier apologizes for deadly accident

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SHILO, Man. - A retired soldier apologized Tuesday for leading a training accident in Afghanistan that left one colleague dead and four others injured.

"I feel horrible and I would like to extend my deepest sorrow, regret and remorse," former warrant officer Paul Ravensdale said during his sentencing hearing before a court martial on four charges, including breach of duty causing death.

"My intent wasn't to go over and have this happen. My intent was to go over and do some good."

The tall, bearded 43-year-old appeared tired and sluggish during his testimony. He is on anti-depression and other medications, and Ravensdale popped one pill as he started talking about the fateful training exercise he led near Kandahar on Feb. 12, 2010.

"I have been diagnosed with major depression and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). I have to take a variety of medications to stay calm and go to bed at night," he said.

"I can't move on. Every day, I relive Feb 12."

Ravensdale was leading a test of C-19 anti-personnel mines on a weapons range when one mine misfired and sent hundreds of steel ball bearings in the wrong direction. Instead of fanning out forwards, the bearings shot backwards toward soldiers who were watching.

Some of the projectiles hit and killed Cpl. Josh Baker, who was 24.

Ravensdale was convicted of ignoring the operating manual for C-19 mines, as well as for neglecting Canadian Forces training safety rules, which require soldiers to be at least 100 metres behind the mines or shielded from them.

Video played at the court martial showed some soldiers standing much closer and unprotected.

Josh Baker's commanding officer, Lt.-Col. Michael Prendergast, testified earlier Tuesday that the death affected the entire unit.

"To us ... it was quite a senseless death. We all thought it could have been preventable."

Ravensdale said he does not know why the mine went off the way it did, and he instructed soldiers to stay behind a row of light armoured vehicles, or LAVs, that were parked on the range.

"You didn't make sure people were behind the LAVs, did you?" asked the prosecutor, Maj. …

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