VANCOUVER — The order to switch to manual steering came about the same time Karen Briker first noticed treetops outside a window where there should have only been water.
The Queen of the North passenger ferry and its 101 passengers and crew were quickly approaching Gil Island, a remote mass of land off British Columbia’s northern coast that would soon be ripping into the ship’s hull.
Navigating officer Karl Lilgert shouted at Briker, his former lover, to switch off the autopilot so he could take the wheel and turn the ship, Briker told Lilgert’s criminal negligence trial, but it was no use. Briker, who only became a deckhand the previous year and hadn’t been on the Queen of the North’s bridge since then, did not know how to operate the switch.
It caused a delay of just a few seconds, but Briker later blamed herself for the collision and subsequent…
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