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Drowning of RMC cadets unrelated to their military service, report finds

A picture of Officer Cadet Jack Hogarth is adjusted during a celebration of life and graduation ceremony at Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., May 19, 2022.  (Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press - image credit)
A picture of Officer Cadet Jack Hogarth is adjusted during a celebration of life and graduation ceremony at Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., May 19, 2022. (Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press - image credit)
A picture of Officer Cadet Jack Hogarth is adjusted during a celebration of life and graduation ceremony at Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., May 19, 2022.
A picture of Officer Cadet Jack Hogarth is adjusted during a celebration of life and graduation ceremony at Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., May 19, 2022.

A portrait of Officer Cadet Jack Hogarth, one of four victims of the April 2022 incident, is placed on display during a celebration of life and graduation ceremony at Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., three weeks after his death. (Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press)

The latest Canadian Armed Forces investigation into the drowning of four Royal Military College (RMC) cadets in a nearby river in 2022 has concluded their deaths "were not attributable to military service."

Around 2 a.m. ET on April 29, 2022, a vehicle carrying four officer cadets, all in their graduating year, entered the water off Point Frederick, a peninsula between Kingston Harbour and Navy Bay on the St. Lawrence River in Kingston, Ont. The city is home to the RMC campus.

The four cadets were later identified as Andrei Honciu, Jack Hogarth, Andrés Salek and Broden Murphy.

While few details about the incident were known, foul play was quickly ruled out. A military office would later confirm the four had drowned, and the dangerous use of a personal vehicle was a factor in their deaths.

Ontario's Office of the Chief Coroner, Kingston Police and the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS) — the independent investigative arm of the military police — all worked to find out more.

Maj.-Gen. D. Craig Aitchison, commander of the Canadian Defence Academy, also ordered an internal summary investigation, one of two types of administrative investigation the military typically launches after the death of a member. They're not meant to assign legal or civil blame, nor mete out punishment.

That summary investigation was the subject of a news release from the Forces on Tuesday.

It said investigators looked at whether there were "service-related circumstances" involved in the tragedy, and whether there had been any "applicable preventative measures."

There were no service-related contributing factors and "the deaths were not attributable to military service," according to the news release, which confirmed none of the cadets was on duty at the time of the incident.

Authorities pulled this vehicle from the St. Lawrence River during the afternoon of Friday, April 29, 2022. Four army cadets from the Royal Military College died after the vehicle became submerged in the early hours of April 29.
Authorities pulled this vehicle from the St. Lawrence River during the afternoon of Friday, April 29, 2022. Four army cadets from the Royal Military College died after the vehicle became submerged in the early hours of April 29.

Authorities pulled the vehicle from the St. Lawrence River on April 29, 2022. (CBC)

CBC has requested the full report, but in an email Tuesday afternoon, a spokesperson for the Canadian Defence Academy said it would need to file a formal access to information request "to ensure that the privacy of the individuals involved in this tragic accident is not compromised."

The spokesperson confirmed this ends the military's probe into the tragedy.

"This concludes all the Canadian Armed Forces investigations into the accident. The Summary Investigation did not identify any preventative measures or make specific recommendations," the spokesperson wrote.

There have also been calls for a coroner's inquest into what happened. In an email on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the coroner's office said no decision has been made in that regard.

The spokesperson added that while the incident didn't trigger a mandatory inquest, family members of the deceased could request one at the coroner's discretion.