Message from the Commissioner: (November 22, 2010)

As readers of this message will know, my Report was released to the public on Wednesday, November 17, 2010. At page 43 of my Report (Volume 1), I wrote:
"In my opinion, despite the delay in instituting a new occupational health and safety regime, there was no evidence in Phase I of the Inquiry that safety in the C-NL offshore has been compromised in any measurable way by that delay. I have been told that the C-NL offshore safety record, in the past fourteen years of production, has been as good as that of the offshore industry generally. As might be expected, the accident rates may rise or fall to some extent in each year, but until the tragic event of March 12, 2009, there had not been any fatalities since the loss of the Ocean Ranger in 1982."
I believed the foregoing reference to fatalities to be true, but on Friday, November 19th, I was informed by C-NLOPB that there were six fatalities in a crash 25 years ago, on March 13, 1985, when a helicopter owned by Universal Helicopters under contract to Petro Canada crashed near Argentia, NL, shortly after taking off from the rig Bowdrill I which was moored in Placentia Bay for maintenance.

Up until I received that information I was not aware of these fatalities and there was no evidence or reference made to them at the Inquiry proceedings.

I therefore wish to correct the omission of these six fatalities from my Report and to extend my regrets and condolences to the families of the deceased pilots and passengers who were:
Captain Gary Freeman Fowlow
First Officer Frank Kearney
Brian Garbett
Art Smith
Bernie Murphy
Jim Wilson
I am informed by the Transportation Safety Board that the helicopter departed the Bowdrill I at 10:45 p.m. Newfoundland standard time to return to St. John’s on what was intended to be a 20 minute flight. The helicopter crashed less than 1500 meters from the rig. 

Sadly, the number of C-NL offshore helicopter fatalities referred to in my Report must be amended from 17 to 23.

I wish to thank C-NLOPB for bringing this matter to my attention.
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