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Floatplane survivor’s civil trial set for 48 days

A civil suit resulting from the November 2009 seaplane crash off Saturna Island is set for 48 days, starting in March 2014. - File photo
A civil suit resulting from the November 2009 seaplane crash off Saturna Island is set for 48 days, starting in March 2014.
— image credit: File photo

A civil suit filed by the White Rock survivor of a November 2009 seaplane crash off Saturna Island is scheduled to be heard in Vancouver next year.

Officials with the B.C. Supreme Court registry confirmed last week that the hearing is set to get underway on March 3, 2014, before Judge Stephen Kelleher.

Forty-eight days have been scheduled.

Barbara Glenn, her two children and her mother-in-law filed the suit against Seair Seaplanes Ltd, Francois St. Pierre and others in May 2011, seeking general, pecuniary, aggravated, punitive and special damages in the death of Thomas Glenn, 60.

The Glenns – childhood friends who had been married 36 years – along with former Semiahmoo Peninsula resident Dr. Kerry Telford and her infant daughter, Sarah, were passengers aboard a Seair de Havilland Beaver floatplane on Nov. 29, 2009, when it crashed shortly after takeoff from Lyall Harbour.

Amongst eight people onboard, the pilot, identified in court documents as St. Pierre, and Barbara Glenn were the only survivors.

All six passengers who died survived the impact, but drowned before they could escape the plane.

A Transportation Safety Board report noted factors that contributed to the deaths included that some of the aircraft’s doors were jammed shut; the doors and windows could not be quickly removed; and, none of those onboard were wearing life-jackets.

According to the Glenns’ suit, Thomas Glenn suffered pain, anxiety and terror in the moments before he died. He had been seated behind and to the left of his wife, in the plane’s back row.

Barbara Glenn, seated in the centre row next to the cabin door, was able to take a breath and struggle, injured, toward a light in the flooded cabin which turned out to be an open door, the documents state.

The suit claims the defendants “were aware of the elevated danger of seaplanes and of flights over water and of specific recommendations within the aviation industry to improve safety, but failed to take steps to improve safety…”

Regarding that specific allegation, a response filed by Seair and St. Pierre notes the defendants “expressly deny they were aware of or that there was an elevated danger of seaplanes and of flights over water.”

Additionally, “these defendants say that quick-release doors, push-out windows and modified door handles were not approved for use in C-GTMC (the aircraft) prior to the accident.”

Other allegations include that the defendants failed to take steps to mitigate risks “to protect the life and limb of the passengers.”

The defendants “specifically deny each and every allegation of breach of duty of care, negligence and fault… and expressly deny they were in any way guilty of any omission, negligence, breach of duty or wrongful act as alleged or at all,” the response states.

“The damage or loss alleged in the Notice of Claim arose from an inevitable accident that could not have been prevented by the exercise of reasonable care, caution and skill by these defendants, or either of them.”

Thomas Glenn, the response notes, “with full knowledge of the nature and extent of the risk of injury or damage involved in the activity of air travel by floatplane, voluntarily and freely consented to accept that risk and to waive any claim for himself, or his representatives and dependents for death, injury or damage resulting from the risk.”

As well, if loss and damages were suffered, they “were caused or contributed to by the negligence of Viking Air, VAM and/or Transport Canada,” the response states.

Viking Air, which holds the “aircraft Type Certificate” for the seaplane, was added as a defendant in the action last August.

 

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