A Hyak ferry accident left a 27-foot sailboat at the bottom of the Salish Sea after a collision in heavy fog on Friday afternoon.
The Hyak, a ferry in Washington state, collided with the sailboat in waters between Shaw and Orcas islands. The incident happened close to 1 pm, and though it was unclear exactly how the accident occurred, authorities say visibility was severely limited by heavy fog at the time.
The only occupant of the sailboat was a man in his mid-60s, who was rescued by another recreational boater and taken to Peace Island Hospital on San Juan.
“An older man was sitting on the boat as it was sinking,” said Suzanne Lyons, who saw the accident from her car.
Other witnesses said they don’t understand how the ferry operator could have missed the sailboat.
“The sailboat was a mile north of Lopez in the middle of the shipping lane,” said Micheal Bried, who was on the Hyak ferry at the time of the accident. “I don’t know why the ferry pilot didn’t see the sailboat,” he added.
The sailboat took the worst of the collision with the 382-foot ferry M/V Hyak, and sank to the floor of the Salish Sea 250 feet below. The massive Hyak ferry can carry up to 2,000 passengers and 144 vehicles.
The accident forced the cancellation of an afternoon trip planned from Orcas to Anacortes.
Authorities said there were no injuries reported as a result of the Hyak ferry accident. The ferry was taken back to Anacortes for inspection, and the ferry’s captain and crew will be subjected to drug and alcohol testing as part of the investigation.