Firefighters: Company owner charged in one of two Southwestern Ontario ice-rescue training deaths five years apart
In a rare move, a private charge has been laid against the owner of a rescue-training company after a Southwestern Ontario trainee died in an ice-rescue exercise on a weekend course in 2015.
The death of 30-year-old Adam Brunt, a firefighting student who drowned while trying to get through a narrow gap in the ice on the Saugeen River near Hanover, was one of two separate ice-rescue training deaths involving Southwestern Ontario firefighters, five years apart, that became the focus of a coroner’s inquest this year.
The other man who died in training involving the same company was Gary Kendall, 51, a veteran Point Edward volunteer firefighter who died in 2010 after getting trapped under fast-moving ice near Sarnia.
Terry Harrison, owner of Herschel Rescue Training Systems, faces one count of criminal negligence causing death in Brunt’s death. The charge was laid in the Ontario Court of Justice in Walkerton.
Brunt drowned during a cold water-ice rescue course instructed by Harrison in the Saugeen River in Hanover when his suit got caught while trying to float through a narrow gap in the ice.
Terri-Jo Thompson, who was also taking the course, was instrumental in getting the charge laid.
“I’m asking for transparency here,” Thompson said Monday.
The jury in the coroner’s inquest that reviewed the deaths of the two Southwestern Ontario men recommended risky ice-rescue courses that put firefighters and students into treacherous, fast-moving currents should be put on hold until they can be performed safely.