Karelia’s Supreme Court upholds sentence in lake tragedy case
MOSCOW, July 31 (RAPSI) – The Supreme Court of Russia’s Republic of Karelia upheld a three-year sentence given to ambulance paramedic Irina Shcherbakova, who had refused to notify rescue services about children drowning in the local lake Syamozero, the court's press-service told RAPSI on Monday.
The court dismissed appeals seeking harsher punishment for the convict filed by 14 victims. The sentence therefore became effective.
Shcherbakova’s sentence, issued in April, is suspended until her child reaches the age of 14. Victims’ lawsuits seeking moral damages were granted in part.
On June 18, 2016, children and the camp’s instructors were sailing on a raft and two canoes over the lake Syamozero in Karelia. 47 children were accompanied by 4 adults, who did not take gathering storm into account. Storm made sailing extremely dangerous: a raft with children and two adults washed up near one of the islands while both canoes were capsized, leaving passengers in the open waters.
Only some managed to swim across to the shore. According to the Investigative Committee, 14 children drowned. Other children survived and were evacuated. The camp has been closed.
Investigators allege that Shcherbakova received a phone call from a child on the day of tragedy. A child told Shcherbakova that he and others are drowning, yet the paramedic did not react to this call and did not notify the rescue services causing critical delay of rescue operation by 18 hours. One of the rescue teams was on standby only in 100 kilometers away from the site.
Shcherbakova who was responsible for reception and transfer of phone calls to local hospital was has been charged with negligence that lead to death of more than two people. She pleaded guilty in part and considered these events to be a mistake.
On May 5, 2017, investigators announced that they completed investigation into the criminal case over the accident. Defendants in the case are former head of Karelia’s Rospotrebnadzor Anatoly Kovalenko, his deputy Lyudmila Kotovich, director of Syamozero Park Hotel camp Elena Reshetova, the camp’s coordinator Vadim Vinogradov and the camp’s instructors Valery Krupodershikov and Pavel Ilyin.
Reshetova, Vinogradov Krupodershikov and Ilyin were charged with rendering of services in violation of safety protocol which accidentally lead two or more people to death. Kovalenko and Kotovich were charged with negligence.
Investigators allege that Reshetova, Vinogradov and Krupodershikov deliberately refused to notify local emergency services about the accident to prevent negative reaction of society from ruining camp’s reputation and inflicting losses. Defendants in the case are believed to abandon children in water during the storm.
Investigators also believe that former officials of Karelia’s Rospotrebnadzor, Kovalenko and Kotovich, were aware about unsavory conditions at the camp and did not take appropriate measures eventually leading to the tragedy.
On February 7, the Moscow Commercial Court collected 2.3 million rubles (about $39,000) from Syamozero camp on a claim filed by the Department of labor and social protection.