N.L. government apologizes for role in wildlife officer death
The Department of Justice and Public Safety released a statement Wednesday apologizing for its role in the death of a wildlife officer nearly three years ago.
Howard Lavers, 57, died while on patrol in February 2013 when his snowmobile went through the ice on Eastern Blue Pond on the Northern Peninsula. Two other officers attempted to save him, but were not successful.
A statement of facts released by the province says that at the time, the Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Division did not have a written safe work procedure for travelling over ice and no written procedures for checking ice thickness.
"The Department of Justice and Public Safety accepts responsibility and apologizes for its role in this tragic event," the statement says.
"The department also offers condolences on behalf of all employees to the family and friends of Howard Lavers. Officer Lavers was a well-known and respected fish and wildlife enforcement officer and a valued member of our community."
The province pleaded guilty to the death and was fined $70,000 for failing to provide proper training on ice rescue, failure to mandate and provide adequate flotation devices and not having a 'travelling over ice' policy.
Part of the fine includes funds to conduct an independent safety audit and provide ice safety training for at least 100 people.
The statement says Lavers' death has brought about "a significant and lasting change" in how the Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Division operates.
"It is the Department of Justice and Public Safety's genuine belief that the measures introduced will assist in preventing a similar event from happening in the future," it says.
The division will appear in court in September 2016 to report on the implementation of its sentence order and address any issues that might arise.