Santokh Kooner

Santokh Kooner

Alcohol poisoning cause of tree planter death near Revelstoke

A Khaira Enterprises employee died of alcohol poisoning after drinking with co-workers at a campground near Revelstoke.

A coroners report into the death of a tree planter at a campground near Revelstoke in June of 2010 has found the cause of death to be accidental alcohol poisoning.

Santokh Singh Kooner, 46, was found unresponsive by co-workers in the early morning hours of June 24, 2010 after a night of drinking with co-workers around a campfire at the Canada West RV Park.

At the time, Kooner was employed by Khaira Enterprises, a reforestation company that remains embroiled in controversy and legal struggles after employees at a forestry camp near Golden, B.C. were discovered living and working in deplorable conditions in the summer of 2010.

The report by local coroner Tim Loader says that a toxicology report revealed Kooner had a blood alcohol level of 0.46 per cent, “which is sufficient to cause death,” Loader writes.

The report notes Kooner was drinking around the campfire the night before, and co-workers later noted he at one point drank about three quarters of a mickey bottle (375 ml) of rum “within about one minute,” Loader writes in his report.

An ambulance from Revelstoke was dispatched to the scene just before 6 a.m. the next morning. When paramedics arrived, they found Kooner unresponsive, laying inside an industrial ambulance associated with the tree-planting operation. A co-worker was performing CPR.

The incident was not initially reported to the RCMP. An emergency room physician at Queen Victoria Hospital pronounced Kooner deceased and called to inform coroner Loader, who then informed the RCMP. Police attended the campsite to investigate and interview those present. “There was no evidence of foul play,” writes Loader.

“I find that Santokh Singh Kooner died in Revelstoke on June 24, 2010 of acute ethanol poisoning. I classify this death as accidental and make no recommendations,” Loader writes in conclusion.

Kooner’s family members had called for an investigation into the incident.