Canada

Gainey dismisses report into death of daughter as 'coverup'

Hockey great Bob Gainey is slamming a probe that concluded his daughter was the "unlucky victim" of an accident when she was swept off a tall ship.

Hockey great Bob Gainey is slamming an investigation thatconcluded his daughter Laura, who was swept overboard a tall ship nearly a year ago, was the "unlucky victim" of an accident.

'Like any lie or coverup it's to try to take something that's happened and change the results,' says Montreal Canadiens GM Bob Gainey. ((CBC))

"Like any lie or coverup it's to try to take something that's happened and change the results," Gainey told the CBC's The Fifth Estate, in his first television interview about the incident since his daughter's death.

Laura Gainey, 25,was sailing on the Lunenburg, N.S.-based Picton Castle when a rogue wave washed over the ship off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass., on Dec. 8, 2006.

An initial probe into the incident by officials in the Cook Islands, where thePicton Castle had been registered,raised a number of safety concerns. But afinal investigation determinedthe accidentwas unavoidable —a conclusion Gainey dismissed.

"It's so simple for most people to see that if you're in the middle of the ocean in a bad storm that perhaps lifejackets would be wise, perhaps harnesses would be wise," said Gainey, who is the general manager of the Montreal Canadiens, a team he played his entire career with.

"There's information that they could hear my daughter for hours but they couldn't find her," Gainey said.

Exclusive footage

Gainey's criticisms come as a Fifth Estate investigation obtained exclusive footage from the voyage and interviewed some of his daughter's crewmates.

Emily Edwards, Picton Castle trainee, told The Fifth Estate she was denied permission to put on a safety harness. ((CBC))

The CBC investigation found that the ship carried 18 trainee sailors but headed into a gale without having done any safety drills.

Emily Edwards, a trainee on the ship, said despite the conditions of the sea,she was not allowed to put on a safety harness.

"I was terrified.The waves were 20 feet high.I asked at the time if I could put on a safety harness and tie myself to the boat because I was so worried. And I was denied permission to do this," Edwards said.

"I asked twice and I was denied permission. I was told it would give me a false sense of security."

Captain almost went over: report

The investigation has also revealed that before Gainey was swept from the ship, the captain almost went over from the same spot.

"If we hadn't have held on, the captain and I would have been the two lost at sea," said deckhand Ryan Vogt.

Vogt said neither had harnesses or flotation devices at that time.

The Canadian Press reported there was also evidence that Laura Gainey had hardly slept during the 20 hours leading up to the accident.

The Picton Castle was registered in the Cook Islands. ((CBC))

Following the accident, an investigation by the Cook Islands confirmed those problems and recommended the ship be "stood down" until proven safe.

But The Fifth Estate has learned that stand down never happened and the report was never made public. Instead, the Cook Islands wrote a new report exonerating the Picton Castle and concluded Laura Gainey was simply an "unlucky victim."

"No silver bullet was identified whereby if any one thing or things had been done differently it would have certainly saved Laura Gainey's life," concluded the July 13 report, according to the Canadian Press.

"Laura Gainey was an unlucky victim of the risk that she took by electing to go to sea."

It concluded Laura's fatigue couldn't be proven as a factor in the accident; the crew worked "regular" shifts; staffing levels weren't an issue, and the crew was "well trained" in man-overboard procedures.

But after lobbying by the Gainey family,the Transportation Safety Board of Canada announced last weekit will do its own inquiry into how Laura Gainey was swept off the tall ship.

The full Fifth Estate report and interview with Bob Gainey can be seen Wednesday night on the CBC at 9 p.m. (9:30 NT).

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