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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Charge Laid In Firefighter Rescue Training Death

Hanover | by Kevin Bernard  

Nearly 3 years after a young man died near Hanover, a trainer has been charged.

A charge of criminal negligence causing death has been laid against an ice and water rescue trainer, in connection with the death of a young man near Hanover. 

Terry Harrison will be in a Walkerton court on January 24th to face the charge.

It was filed by a civilian, Terri Jo Thompson, who was involved in the training course which claimed the life of 30 year old Adam Brunt in 2015. 

Brunt was a Durham College student working towards becoming a firefighter and was participating in a private ice water training course conducted by Terry Harrison of Herschel Rescue Training Systems.

Terri-Jo Thompson alleges "I saw with my own eyes the criminal negligence that he did." 

Al Brunt of Bowmanville, Adam's father, is glad to see the case going before the courts.

He says Thompson testified at the Inquest into his son's death that Harrison did not have safety equipment nearby, and that no one on site had a cell phone.

Thompson says the students had all put away their phones when they got into wet suits, and Harrison did not have one with him so they had to run to the road to stop a car, and call 911 when Brunt was stuck under the ice.

It was February 8th, 2015 when the 12 students in the course were traveling down the Saugeen River near a dam and Brunt's survival suit got caught on a piece of metal. 

Al Brunt says it was 29 minutes from the time the 911 call was made, to when his son arrived at a nearby hospital.

Following Brunt's death, the Hanover Police Service carried out an investigation that the Brunt family believed would lead to charges. 

However no charges were laid at the time.

An inquest resulted in 15 recommendations for several provincial ministries to regulate the training industry.

Al Brunt says a private members bill is now before the Ontario legislature seeking to implement those recommendations.

It has received unanimous support in the legislature and is now working it's way through the committee stage.

It was only after their son’s death that Al and Christy Brunt learned that in 2010 volunteer firefighter Gary Kendall died while training with Herschel Rescue during an ice water rescue exercise. 

The Ministry of Labour ultimately fined the Town of Point Edward -- Mr. Kendall’s employer -- $75,000 in that case. Mr. Harrison was also charged under labour laws, but acquitted because the fire chief was considered to be in command of the scene.

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