May 22, 2014 8:00 pm

CFB Wainwright accident: LAV III has a history of rollovers

Watch above: Lt.-Col Dan Bobbitt was killed Wednesday and four other soldiers were injured at CFB Wainwright when the light armoured vehicle they were in rolled over. Shirlee Engel reports.

Military officials are still investigating an accident in Wainwright, Alberta on Wednesday that killed Lt.-Col. Dan Bobbitt and injured four others.

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Bobbitt, commanding officer of the 2nd Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery based at Garrison Petawawa, Ont., died during a training exercise at CFB Wainwright, 300 kilometres southeast of Edmonton.

Military officials have not released any other details, saying the investigation is ongoing.

READ MORE: Senior Canadian Forces soldier killed, 4 injured in training accident in Wainwright

The LAV III, as it’s known in the army, has been involved in more than a dozen rollovers since it was introduced in 1999, including several accidents in Afghanistan that resulted in at least five fatalities.

Bobbitt is not the first person to die in a LAV III rollover during a training exercise at CFB Wainright.

Pvt. Patrick Dessureault was killed in a 2005 training accident at the base.

His family still doesn’t know what led to the accident.

“I don’t know what the army has done to correct this situation,” Dessureault’s brother Samuel Dessereault told Global News. “How many losses do we have to endure before they do something?”

WATCH BELOW: Major Jennifer Causey, Second in Command at CFB Petawawa, said she’s aware of the other incidents involving LAVs but she has never experienced any safety concerns during her time in the vehicle.

Global News contacted the Canadian Forces to find out about Dessureault’s death. While military police ruled it an accident, it’s not known if the inquiry has been completed.

Deaths ruled accidental are studied by a board of inquiry, behind closed doors, and it’s up to the board to notify the family of its findings.

It can take years for the results to be reported.

But it’s not unusual for LAVs to tip over, said military analyst Col. (Ret.) Michael Drapeau.

“One of the risks associated with the operation of a LAV is that it has a high gravity point and it’s fairly easy to tip it over, and particularly if there is a turret on top,” Drapeau explained. “Then it’s top-heavy.”

CANADA'S LAV III - LIGHT ARMOURED VEHICLE

Drapeau said there are ways to manoeuvre the vehicle to “minimize the risk” of it tipping over.

But, he said training, experience and following instruction are all factors that could lead to the LAV rolling.

In the case of this most recent accident, Drapeau said it’s likely a case of human error or lack of training or experience that led to the deadly rollover.

He doesn’t believe the military needs to change the way LAV operators are trained. But, he said the military needs to “re-qualify” operators and “be absolutely certain anybody and everybody follows the drills and follows the operating procedures.”

The Canadian Forces are in the midst of a $1-billion upgrade aimed at improving the LAV IIIs stability, among other things.

As the vehicles returned from the Afghan war, National Defence embarked on an ambitious program to improve the protection, electronics and stability of the vehicle, including the powertrain and suspension. It’s not clear whether Bobbitt’s vehicle had been upgraded.

The refurbishment program, being carried out by General Dynamics Land Systems Inc., is expected to finish work on the army’s entire fleet by 2017.

With files from Shirlee Engel, Bryan Mullan and The Canadian Press

© Shaw Media, 2014

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