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Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Man pleads guilty in river boating accident

Posted: 12/6/2012 4:37 PM | Comments: 0

Last Modified: 12/6/2012 6:57 PM | Updates

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A Winnipeg man has admitted fault in a deadly boating accident on the Assiniboine River near The Forks.

Johnny Roy Petriew, 36, pleaded guilty Thursday to dangerous driving under the Criminal Code. He will be sentenced early next year, upon completion of a substance-abuse program he is currently taking at the Behavioural Health Foundation, court was told.

Petriew was originally charged with impaired operation of a vessel and failure to provide breath samples. The Crown has agreed to drop those offences in exchange for his guilty plea. No further details or facts of the plea bargain were provided in court.

Petriew was rescued from the swollen, fast-moving waters of the Assiniboine in May 2011, but his 37-year-old friend did not resurface near the Promenade Bridge. Police say their investigation showed the two men were operating a four-metre aluminium fishing boat with a small-horsepower tiller motor. As the boat approached The Forks Market area the boat capsized and both men, who were not wearing lifejackets, fell into the Assiniboine.

One of the men climbed onto a pile of driftwood, where he was rescued by fire department rescue crews. Witnesses said the second man was swept down the Assiniboine River into the Red River. Police said currents and excessive amounts of flood water flowing on the Assiniboine prevented further police attempts to search for the second man. Boating on Winnipeg rivers was declared illegal at the time due to the dangerous flood waters.

Petriew is no stranger to police, with six previous impaired driving related charges on his record. He was sentenced to 10 months in jail in March 2010 after pleading guilty to drunk driving, driving while disqualified and breaching conditions of his bail by consuming alcohol. The father of two told Provincial Court Judge Linda Giesbrecht at the time was ready to start a new chapter in his life after five previous convictions dating back to 1994, resulting in three stints behind bars.

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Updated on Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 6:57 PM CST: Corrects cutline information

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