Fatal accident at the Royal Military College: the type of investigation surprises experts

Accident deadly at Royal Military College: type of investigation surprises experts

Jack Hogarth, Andrei Honciu, Broden Murphy and Andrés Salek died in an accident.

Military law experts say they are surprised that an on-campus accident, which resulted in the deaths of four Royal Military College Kingston officer cadets last spring, is coming under scrutiny. a simple internal summary investigation instead of a commission of inquiry.

On April 29 at around 2:00 a.m., a vehicle carrying four officer cadets fell at the water off Point Frederick, a peninsula between Kingston Harbor and Navy Bay on the St. Lawrence River, where the campus of the Royal Military College is located.

Andrei Honciu, Jack Hogarth, Andrés Salek and Broden Murphy are dead. These fourth-year students were about to graduate and commission and embark on a career in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Although few details of the accident are known, the possibility that it was foul play was ruled out from the start. That is why the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario has taken over the investigation. Kingston Police and the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS) – the independent investigative arm of the Military Police – are assisting.

Major General D. Craig Aitchison, Commandant of the Canadian Defense Academy, also ordered an internal summary investigation which began May 17. An internal summary investigation is one of two types of administrative investigations that the military usually orders after a member's death.

These investigations are not intended to address legal or civil blame or inflict punishment. In the case of the four cadets, the summary investigation will review the service-related circumstances of the accident and make recommendations to prevent similar deaths from happening again.

During a summary investigation, only one officer handles the case.

A [summary inquiry] is usually chosen when the case is less complex, said a Department of National Defense spokesperson.

The second form of investigation administrative inquiry is a commission of inquiry which, according to the ministry, is usually chosen for more complex cases. This is a military panel that hears evidence and testimony from sworn people.

I was a little surprised they didn't use a commission of inquiry, said military lawyer Rory Fowler, a retired lieutenant colonel and former legal officer with the firm. of the Judge Advocate General.

Usually, in the past, senior Canadian Forces decision-makers, when dealing with high-profile, non-combat related deaths , usually ordered a commission of inquiry by default.

Given the seriousness of the accident […], I would have expected a commission of inquiry, which is more formal, if only to make sure to examine the situation. #x27;case from the ground up, said Michel Drapeau, a retired colonel who practices military law and teaches at the University of Ottawa.

Although a summary investigation is much less robust than a board of inquiry, the military may have reason to choose this route, Fowler said.

< p class="e-p">The Canadian Armed Forces may consider the parallel military, civilian police and coroner investigations to be sufficiently thorough, he added.

If d' x27;other inquiries will perform this fact-finding function, there is probably no need for a commission of inquiry, Fowler said.

Since this particular tragic circumstance has generated significant media attention, the convening authority may well be of the view that ''better sooner than later'' regarding the completion of the administrative investigation.

The opening of a summary investigation does not prevent the holding of an investigation. #x27;a board of inquiry at a later time, according to the Department of Defense.

During a summary investigation, the investigator contacts families to ask them questions and then relay the results to them, the ministry said.

The findings are not made public in full given the sensitive material and personal information they contain, the Defense Ministry added.

A vehicle had been recovered from the St. Lawrence River. (Archives)

A Royal Military College spokesperson said last week that no changes have been made to Point Frederick's infrastructure at this time as the military awaits final reports from the coroner's office. chief as well as the results of the summary investigation.

It would be premature to initiate any changes until the final recommendations of the summary inquest have been submitted, the spokesperson said.

Earlier this week, a spokesperson for the coroner's office said it was awaiting reports < em>post mortem, including toxicology results, before providing the results of the four death investigations to the CFNIS and the internal summary investigation officer.

Results of death investigations can also be provided to families upon request, the spokesperson added.

With information ns of CBC

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