3 deaths in 2013 Sudbury boat crash subject of coroner's inquest

Ontario's Chief Coroner has called an inquest into four deaths, three of them from a boat crash on Lake Wanapitei in 2013.

Deaths part of examination of Ontario's 911 system

Stephanie Bertrand, Matthew Humeniuk and Michael Kritz died after the boat they were in crashed into an island on Lake Wanapitei in 2013. (Supplied)

Ontario's Chief Coroner has called an inquest into four deaths, three of them from a boat crash on Sudbury's Lake Wanapitei in 2013.

Matthew Humeniuk, Michael Kritz and Stephanie Bertrand died June 30, 2013 after the boat they were riding in struck an island Lake Wanapitei, near the community of Skead in Greater Sudbury.
The map that Rob Dorzek sent to the 911 dispatcher showing his location on Lake Wanapitei. (provided)

According to a written release issued by the province on Friday, the joint inquest — which will also include the 2014 death of an Ottawa-area woman due to a medical condition — will look at Ontario's 911 emergency response system.

The families of the three people killed on Lake Wanapitei, the lone survivor of the crash, as well as the Sudbury Professional Firefighters Association had been calling for an inquest, but that request was denied in 2014 by the regional supervising coroner.

Rob Dorzek is the lone survivor of a 2013 boating accident on Lake Wanapitei. He said he spent nearly an hour on the line with a 911 dispatcher, who had difficulty figuring out his location, even though he sent a map showing where he was. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)

Chief Coroner of Ontario Dirk Huyer said he reviewed the earlier decision and decided that an inquest would be in the public interest.

"There's been questions around the Sudbury area about the confidence in the 911 system," Huyer said.

"This will provide the opportunity for the public to have a view into the system."

Questions were already being raised in 2014 about the effectiveness of the 911 system in northern Ontario.

According to 911 transcripts released at the time, there were delays in getting to the group due to confusion over where the accident happened.

Rob Hyndman was president of the Sudbury firefighters association back in 2013 and is now president of the provincial union.

He said Friday's announcement was "a happy surprise" and he's pleased those involved will finally get "answers as to what fully transpired that evening."

Hyndman says he hopes the inquest will look at the need for integrated 911 dispatch, which will mean that police, paramedics and firefighters receive calls at the same time.

"I don't believe that we have made the appropriate changes to the system post incident that would prevent a similar incident from happening again."

Some in Sudbury have been keen to lay blame for the three deaths and whose responsibility it was is now the subject of a civil lawsuit.

Huyer admits that could be a "challenge" for the presiding coroner, but one his office is used to handling.

"The stage will be set and everyone will be reminded that this is about working together to improve the system if improvements are required," he said.

The province said further details about the inquest, such as the date, location and presiding coroner, will be released at a later date when the information becomes available.