A Toronto teacher who was in charge of a high school canoe trip four years ago acknowledged today that a student would not have drowned had he been wearing a life jacket to swim.
Nicholas Mills is being cross-examined for a second day at his trial, which is taking place in person and by videoconference.
He has pleaded not guilty to criminal negligence causing death in the drowning of 15-year-old Jeremiah Perry.
Perry was swimming with his canoe group when he vanished in the waters of Trout Lake on July 4, 2017. His body was found by police divers the next day.
Prosecutors suggested today that Perry would still be alive had Mills enforced a rule that requires poor swimmers to wear life jackets at all times while in the water, not just while canoeing.
Mills agreed Perry would not have drowned had he been wearing a life jacket, but maintained he believed Perry was able to swim, and suggested the rule would thus not have applied to him.
“If he was wearing a life jacket, that wouldn’t have happened, you’re right,” Mills said under cross-examination Wednesday.
But he said Perry was “a swimmer” and had been tested. “My impression is that Jeremiah would not have been in a life jacket” under the rule’s criteria, he said.
Court has heard Perry failed a mandatory swim test held prior to the trip, as did 14 other students taking part in the excursion.
The teen and several others wore life jackets during the assessment, which was against the rules imposed by the school board for overnight canoe trips, court has heard.
Mills has repeatedly said he believed at the time that Perry had passed the test, and recalled seeing what he thought was a “P” for “pass” next to the boy’s name when he “scanned” the test results.
The teacher also said he assessed Perry’s swimming abilities again on July 2, and the teen passed.
The Crown alleges the teacher made up both those things after Perry’s death to justify letting the teen swim without a life jacket.