Four people have died and four were hospitalized after a whale watching tour boat sank off the coast of British Columbia. The tour boat was carrying 27 people when it sank into the frigid waters near Tofino on Vancouver Island. The boat made a mayday call around 4:00 pm, but authorities say it was too late, four people had perished in the water.
The Daily Mail reports that a whale watching tour boat sank off the coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia this afternoon as it carried 27 people. It was reported that four people died in the accident with another four being transferred to a nearby hospital for treatment. In addition to the deceased and hospitalized, five others were treated at the scene for exposure to the cold waters.
— CBC British Columbia (@cbcnewsbc) October 26, 2015
The whale watching tour was run by the company Jamie’s Whaling Station. Sadly this is not the first fatal tour accident for the company. Back in 1998, a different boat operated by Jamie’s sank. The 1998 accident killed two people. It is not known at this time what caused the vessel to sink. However, locals claim that the water was calm and that it was bright outside with low winds. Therefore, it seems that weather was not the likely culprit for the tragic accident. Though authorities have confirmed four dead, they have only accounted for nine others. They have yet to disclose information on 15 other unaccounted for individuals. The Tofino mayor, Josie Osborn, says that her her thoughts and prayers are with the families of the deceased along with the other crew and passengers from the doomed vessel.
“Tofino’s thoughts and prayers are with passengers, crew, emergency responders & their families. Thank you all for your messages of support.”
Despite the 1998 accident, Jamie’s Whaling Station claims to be “safety-minded” with “local experts” leading their whale watching tours. The company says they have been in business since 1982.
“We love the ocean, are safety-minded, and thrive on bringing wildlife encounters, fun boating, and a natural learning curve all into the same experience every time we leave the docks.”
Sadly the doomed tour-goers were almost saved from the devastation as the company had scheduled to close for the season in just six days. It was noted that when the distress signal was activated, numerous other boats in the area responded to the scene and began plucking people from the water. In fact, it was noted that many small boats came back and forth to the scene to help those stranded in the water.
Emergency crews then made their way to the area and provided medical care to at least five people who were suffering from exposure to the cold waters. Four individuals were transferred to the hospital for treatment and four were declared dead. At this time there are an unknown number of people still in the water as crews look for survivors.
— Amy Dodge (@AmyDodgeCBC) October 26, 2015
According to The Global News, the Coast Guard will be updating the press on the status of the 15 unaccounted for individuals as details emerge, but provided the exact location that the ship went down. The publication says that the boat sank near Plover Reefs, west of Vargas Island and northwest of Tofino. A Tofino water taxi driver says that numerous boats responded to the area and that the ship that sank was a Leviathan II, a 65-foot cruiser vessel.
Meanwhile, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada is said to be en-route to assist with the investigation into the sinking of the whale watching tour boat. Since the boat was so large, it was noted that those in the ship would not have been required to wear life vests. Instead, the life vests would only be required to be on the vessel.
[Photo by Cameron Spencer/ Getty Images]