Search and rescue drowning inquest begins
Sweatman's father says search and rescue underfunded
An inquest examining how a swift water search and rescue expert drowned during a recovery operation in June of 2011 begins in Nelson Monday morning.
Sheilah Sweatman, 29, was helping retrieve the body of a young woman inside a vehicle submerged in the Goat River near Creston, B.C.
Sweatman and a partner from the Nelson Search and Rescue team were on a Cataraft, an inflatable raft with two pontoons. They had hooked a steel cable to the submerged vehicle and were trying to tow it in when the vehicle shifted, moving down river.
Sweatman's leg got wrapped up in the cable, she was dragged under water and there was no quick way to cut through the steel cable, found a WorkSafeBC report.
She was the first search and rescue volunteer to be killed in the line of duty in B.C. in 15 years.
Search and rescue needs proper funding, says father
Sheilah's father Wynn Sweatman says time has made his family's loss bearable, but he believes they'll never really get over it.
"Well it's a real struggle every single day for all of us," he said.
He says almost all of their family is flying to B.C. from Winnipeg for the inquiry.
They have a good sense of what happened that day, he said, and hopes two things will come of the inquest.
'We think there was gross errors in planning, and failures in the equipment and those need to be identified.
"The second thing we want to come out of it is some recognition that search and rescue provides an incredibly valuable service to everybody in British Columbia, but it's underfunded," he said.
"We'd like to see the community and province get real about properly funding this organization Sheilah loved so much."
The inquest runs though to Thursday but can not place blame in Sweatman's death. Instead it will make recommendations on how to prevent future deaths.
With files from the CBC's Bob Keating