British Columbia

Anniversary of tugboat Ingenika tragedy marked by calls for accountability

One year after the tugboat MV Ingenika slipped beneath stormy seas, the widow of a lost sailor is calling for federal answers and action.

Safety board yet to release report or recommendations into sinking that claimed 2 mariners' lives

Judy Carlick-Pearson, left, her son Carver and her late husband Troy Pearson. Pearson died Feb. 11, 2021, after the tugboat Ingenika capsized while towing a barge in the Gardner Canal just off the coast of Kitimat. (Submitted by Judy Carlick-Pearson.)

Judy Carlick-Pearson will head to the shore near her North Coast home today and throw a bouquet of flowers into the frigid waters, in memory of her husband.

Troy Pearson and Charley Cragg were killed when the tugboat MV Ingenika sank in stormy seas a year ago in the early morning hours of Feb. 11, 2021.

Carlick-Pearson is still mourning the loss and still searching for answers.

"There's just too much trauma that's happened," she said. "It's really hard to get a reset, especially now since there's no accountability. There's really no one held responsible yet."

The federal Transportation Safety Board (TSB) and the RCMP have been investigating since the Ingenika was reported missing just before midnight, Feb. 10, 2021.

The RCMP vessel Inkster stationed in Hartley Bay was called into action at around 12:40 a.m. PT after an emergency beacon was detected from the vessel in the Gardner Canal. 

The tugboat had departed Kitimat, towing a heavy barge filled with supplies destined for nearby Rio Tinto mining operations, despite a weather forecast of gale force winds and windchill temperatures plunging to –30 C.

Carlick-Pearson claims her husband refused to crew the vessel earlier in the day but left port after a call from tug company managers. 

The TSB has yet to release a report or recommendations in its investigation into the tragedy.

'Nothing's changed a year later'

Maritime unions say the tragedy highlights problems in federal government maritime regulation, safety and response.

"We still don't have any closure. There's no conclusion to the investigation. We don't have any findings," Jason Woods, the president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 400, told CBC News.

"We're still waiting for answers, and the families are waiting for justice. And the unions are still pushing and hoping for change out of this tragedy." 

On Wednesday, the International Transport Workers' Federation added their powerful global voice, issuing a statement demanding action from the federal government. 

Woods says the TSB has begun a voluntary registration program for tugboats under 15 deadweight tonnes, but small vessels remain largely unregulated;  training and safety remain union priorities.

Ingenika crew member Charley Cragg was on his very first shift on the water, when the tugboat sank.

"We often hear in the marine sector regulations are born from blood and oil. In this case, we have both,"  said Woods.

Troy Pearson and his son Carver. (Photo submitted by Judy Carlick-Pearson )

Judy Carlick-Pearson echoes the call for stronger maritime training, safety and regulation.

She said her young son Carver already talks about a life on the sea.

"One hundred percent. He will be on his own boat," she said.

"It's going to be a lifelong mission of mine and I can see it being a lifelong mission of my son's. We're not going to let up. We have no reason to let up and we have nothing to lose at this point."

Corrections

  • A previous version of the article stated that Transport Canada had not yet released a report into the sinking of the Ingenika. In fact, it was the Transportation Safety Board that were investigating the case.
    Feb 12, 2022 8:44 AM PT

with files from CBC's Radio West and Daybreak North

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now