Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

'We had run aground,' ferry officer testifies

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VANCOUVER -- First came an unusually loud noise and then the boat rocked, but the colours of the passenger ferry's radar screen are what Kevin Hilton recalls most vividly.

The second officer on the Queen of the North remembers rushing from a meal in the lounge to the bridge and spotting evidence the vessel had crashed. "I could see on the radar there was a lot of red," Hilton told the B.C. Supreme Court on Monday, explaining red on the screen represents land.

"I could see the ship was right up against the red. We had run aground," he said of the incident just after midnight on March 22, 2006, when the vessel missed a turn while sailing in B.C.'s Inside Passage and struck Gil Island.

Hilton's testimony about the sinking of the BC Ferries vessel off the northwest coast of B.C. came during the trial of Karl Lilgert, who is accused of criminal negligence causing the deaths of two passengers.

He described arriving at the deck and hearing quartermaster Karen Bricker tell him to "Come quickly, something terrible has happened."

He also saw Lilgert, the fourth officer, who earlier had traded responsibilities with him for navigating the ship.

Hilton told court he was surprised Lilgert had returned to the bridge early from a break, not long after his former lover Karen Bricker arrived there for her role as quartermaster.

Court has heard Lilgert and Bricker were working alone together for the first time since their affair had ended.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 19, 2013 A8

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