Sudbury

Multi-million-dollar lawsuits filed over fatal Wanapitei boat crash

The families of those killed in a boat crash on Lake Wanapitei three years ago are now suing each other, as well as Greater Sudbury emergency services, alleging the rescue wasn't fast enough.

Three people died in crash and fire on June 29, 2013

Three people were killed June 29, 2013 when their boat crashed into a small island and later caught fire when the lone survivor attempted to signal rescuers. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)

The families of those killed in a boat crash on Lake Wanapitei three years ago are now suing each other, as well as Greater Sudbury emergency services, alleging the rescue wasn't fast enough.

It was Canada Day weekend 2013, and four friends — Michael Kritz, Matthew Humeniuk, Rob Dorzek and Stephanie Bertrand — spent a day together at a camp on Gavin Island on Lake Wanapitei.

That night they decided to get into a boat and go to a party on the other side of the lake. It crashed into an island and Dorzek was the lone survivor.

Rob Dorzek has filed a $5.5 million lawsuit over the boat crash on Lake Wanapitei of which he was the lone survivor. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)

A lawsuit filed by Dorzek and the estate of his late common-law girlfriend Stephanie Bertrand claims that Michael Kritz  "acquired, offered and supplied dozens of alcoholic beverages, including bottles of beer, to his guests" and "turned a 'blind-eye' to the excessive consumption of alcohol" when he suggested they get in the boat and that Humenuik drive.

The suit also claims that the owner of the camp, Michael's father James Kritz, was negligent.

The Dorzek suit, which is seeking $5.5 million in damages, also names Greater Sudbury police, fire and ambulance services, as well as individual supervisors and dispatchers who were working that night.

It claims that emergency services staff failed to arrange for a proper and timely rescue and that Bertrand "failed to receive necessary medical attention" before her injuries became fatal. She died a week later in hospital.

The suit recounts how Dorzek called 911 several times and was advised to light a signal fire, which spread to the boat, which has caused Dorzek "immense emotional anguish, distress and trauma as a result of the inexcusable delay."

Dorzek continues to lobby the province to reconsider holding a coroner's inquest into what happened that night.

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

The Kritz family is joining Dorzek's claim against the city, but is also counter-suing him for $1 million.

Their suit argues that Michael Kritz was not a "social host" that day, that the other three brought their own alcoholic drinks and that the party and the decision to get into the boat was a "joint venture."

The Kritz family also argues that the naming of James in the lawsuit just because he owned the camp and the boat is "frivolous, vexatious and abuse of process."

​The cross-claim also alleges that Dorzek failed to rescue Michael Kritz from the boat or follow the instructions of emergency dispatchers, improperly lighting a signal fire where there was a chance it would spread to the boat.

The court documents allege that Dorzek "focused solely on his own wellbeing and that of Ms. Bertrand without making any further attempt to rescue Mr. Kritz," even though he "had confirmed and knew that Mr. Kritz was still alive."

None of the lawyers involved in the case responded to requests for comment, but it could be months, even years, before the court decides whose version of what happened that night is the truth.

Robert Dorzek and the estate of his late girlfriend Stephanie Bertrand are seeking $5.5 million in damages for the boat crash on Lake Wanapitei in 2013 that killed her and two others. (Erik White/CBC)

now