Nfld. & Labrador

No problem with our role in Winters search says RCMP

An internal investigation by the RCMP into the failed search for Burton Winters has concluded that their response was appropriate.

Internal investigation concluded Mounties acted appropriately

Burton Winters, 14, died when his snowmobile broke down on ice outside his home community of Makkovik in late January. His body was found Feb. 1. (CBC )

An internal investigation by the RCMP into the failed search for Burton Winters has concluded that the response by the police force, after the teen was reported missing in Labrador, was appropriate.

There have been questions as to why RCMP brass in St. John's didn't immediately go into preparation mode on Jan. 29, the night Burton Winters went missing.

Police in Makkovik, Winters’ hometown, alerted St. John's that an aircraft would be needed the next day. But there's no indication of preparations that night.

During the search, one of the military’s rescue co-ordinators expressed disbelief at the lack of advance flight planning.

RCMP in St. John's called Makkovik early the next morning, and during the next three hours more calls were made about weather conditions and search details, but weather kept planes grounded.

By mid-morning a private pilot from Postville, Labrador, volunteered to fly. A government-contracted pilot still had weather concerns at that time, but did take off from Goose Bay and arrived at mid-day.

The RCMP tells CBC News that an internal review of the search concluded its policies and procedures were followed and there is no need for changes. The statement said conditions can change hourly – even by the minute – during a search, based on information from searchers. 

Questions were raised about the province's role in the search after recordings of emergency calls to Halifax search and rescue were released to the CBC.

The province's side of those conversations was not included in the recordings.

But the provincial government says it will be released, possibly this week.