·  Globe and Mail

Families of Sawmill Blast Victims Denied Publicly Funded Lawyer for Inquest

By Justine Hunter, Globe and Mail

The families of four men killed in sawmill blasts in northern B.C. say they cannot fully participate in a coroner’s inquest after the provincial government rejected an appeal to allow them legal representation.

Although the request is unusual – the province says there is no precedent for a publicly funded lawyer for individuals in a coroner’s inquest – the inquiry is also atypical.

In 2012, a sawmill in the community of Burns Lake exploded, killing Robert Luggi Jr. and Carl Charlie, and injuring dozens of workers. Weeks later, a similar blast consumed a Prince George sawmill, killing Alan Little and Glenn Roche and injuring many more. Investigations by WorkSafe BC concluded the blasts were preventable, triggered by an unsafe buildup of sawdust, but the agency failed to persuade the Crown to lay charges against the mills’ owners.

Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe is leading a single inquest into both incidents, to be held next March in Prince George. And because it is unusual to hold an inquest on more than a single incident, her office will for the first time broadcast the hearing for the small, mostly First Nations community of Burns Lake.

Complete article in the Globe and Mail

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