December 17, 2018
Europe

Government department charged over Antarctic pilot’s death

Related Story: 'We didn't know': Former Antarctic boss says pilots failed to flag crevasse prior to fatal accidentRelated Story: Rescuer faced 'grim choice' trying to pull colleague from Antarctic crevasse

The Department of Environment and Energy and a helicopter contractor have been charged over the death of a helicopter pilot.

Key points:

  • David Wood fell down an Antarctic crevasse in 2016
  • Department of Environment and Energy facing charges
  • Helicopter Resources also facing workplace safety charges

David Wood died of hypothermia after falling down a crevasse on the Western Shelf in the Australian Antarctic Territory during a routine mission.

An ongoing coronial inquest has heard he was trapped for hours and while he was pulled alive from the crevasse, he later died of hypothermia.

A statement from the federal workplace safety regulator Comcare claimed the department failed in its duties under the federal Work Health and Safety Act.

Charges were also laid against Captain Wood's employer Helicopter Resources.

Each party will face three criminal charges relating to Captain Wood's death, and all charges relate to breaches of federal work health and safety laws.

A helicopter, landed on a faint line in the snow, with a hole in it where David Wood fell through.

It is understood the charges relate to the parties' alleged failure to undertake proper safety assessments of the site where Captain Wood died, and as such exposed him to risk of death or serious injury.

The maximum penalty for each charge is $1.5 million.

An inquest into Captain Wood's death has heard that in the weeks before his death, he and a co-pilot had spotted the crevasse, but failed to report it despite their obligation to do so.

A spokesperson for the Department of Environment and Energy said it "passes on its condolences to Mr Wood's family, friends and colleagues".

"As the work, health and safety matter is now before the courts, the department will not comment further," the statement read.

Helicopter Resources were also contacted for comment.

The case will be heard in the ACT Magistrates Court in February.

Original Article

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