P.E.I. captain pleads not guilty in fatal lobster boat collision

A trial date will be set in February for Clarence Barry White. Justin Mackay and Christopher Melanson died in the June, 2018 incident, in waters off Murray Harbour.

Two men died in the June 2018 incident

The wharf at Beach Point was marked off with police tape following the 2018 collision of the two lobster vessels. (Alistair MacCormick/CBC)

The captain of a lobster boat that was involved in a collision that killed two people has pleaded not guilty to charges in the matter.

A lawyer for Clarence Barry White, 52, of Murray River, entered the not guilty pleas Tuesday in P.E.I. Supreme Court in Charlottetown. White is charged with two counts of criminal negligence causing death in the operation of a vessel.

A trial date will be set in February.

Justin MacKay of P.E.I. and Christopher Melanson of Nova Scotia died in the June, 2018 incident, in waters off Murray Harbour. White's boat, Forever Chasin' Tail, collided with another boat, Joel '98; the second boat ended up sinking. The two men who died were aboard the Joel '98.

An investigation by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada found White's boat was on auto-pilot at the time of the collision.

White is also charged with infractions under the Canada Shipping Act. He pleaded guilty to one of those charges, failing to keep proper lookout, Nov. 3 in Georgetown Provincial Court. His second charge under the Canada Shipping Act, a charge of speeding, is slated for Georgetown court in January.

The Georgetown matters are likely to be adjourned until the criminal matters in Charlottetown are resolved, according to White's lawyer, Brian Casey of Halifax.

At Tuesday's arraignment, Justice Tracey Clements spoke by teleconference with Casey, and with federal prosecutor Paul Adams of Halifax.

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