Problems with police boat before drowning death in Yukon, Canada

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CBC.caInquest hears no rules, no training to operate boat that capsized in Canada’s northwestern Yukon territory

A coroner’s inquest has heard that before Yukon Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constable Michael Potvin drowned, there were problems with the police boat that capsized, throwing him and another officer into the Stewart River at Mayo village.

Constable Andreas Seidemann testified he used the boat approximately 10 times for fishing and hunting trips in the year before Potvin’s death in July 2010.

On one trip, he said the boat’s motor stalled and waves started coming over the back. He said it was a close call.

Seidemann said he never wrote a report on the incident, but told his supervisors about it and even mentioned it to Potvin.

He said he did not know of any rules for using Royal Canadian Mounted Police boats and was never certified to use them. He also never wore a life jacket while in the boat and did not know he was required to so.

Those details first came out last spring, when the federal government went to court in a failed attempt to block the inquest.

Witnesses to the fatal incident said Potvin tried to swim to shore as Corporal Brent Chapman clung to the overturned boat.

They said Potvin was swimming strongly, and urged them to help Chapman before he slid below the surface. His body was found two weeks later, almost 60 kilometers downstream.

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