Nfld. & Labrador

Dunderdale demands answers from DND about Winters search

Premier Kathy Dunderdale is demanding the Department of National Defense respond to questions raised about the search for Burton Winters by The Fifth Estate.

Inconsistencies revealed by The Fifth Estate spark premier's comments

Premier Kathy Dunderdale in the house of assembly on Monday, March 26, 2012. (CBC)

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Kathy Dunderdale is demanding the Department of National Defence respond to questions raised about the search for Burton Winters by The Fifth Estate.

"There's a letter leaving a minister's office [Monday], to the minister of defence asking the question: If weather was not an issue, why weren't the Cormorants deployed? The answer to that question, Mr. Speaker, will dictate further actions by this government," Dunderdale told the house of assembly Monday.

Military officials said the weather on Jan. 30 initially prevented them from responding.

"We have set guidelines when it comes to ceiling and visibility and in the case where we were looking at where that search was, it would have been deemed unsafe to fly," said Rear Admiral and Commander of Maritime Forces Atlantic David Gardam said in a news conference in the days after the 14-year-old's body was found.

The Fifth Estate has obtained the operational log related to the incident and it includes weather reports that contradict Gardam's statement. DND's guidelines say search and rescue helicopters need a 300-foot clearance and half-mile visibility to fly safely. The weather reports show they had twice that amount on Jan. 30.

Winters was reported missing from Makkovik on Jan. 29. His body was found on sea ice outside the community on Feb. 1.