RCMP say two Alberta men died in B.C. sinking

Sport-fishing vessel took on water, overturned

TOFINO, B.C. — Two Alberta men died when a sport-fishing vessel with five people on board took on water and overturned off the west coast of Vancouver Island, the RCMP said Monday.

The Mounties said the men are 32 and 42 years old, but their names and hometowns haven’t yet be released.

Staff Sgt. Annie Linteau said Tofino RCMP is investigating the capsizing of the 8.4-metre vessel Sunday in waters northwest of Bartlett Island near Tofino, a popular tourist community on the central west coast of Vancouver Island.

“We can confirm right now there were five men on board the vessel when it took on water and capsized,” she said. “Other sports vessels in the area rendered assistance in rescuing the people in the water. The Canadian Coast Guard personnel provided life-saving measures.”

The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Victoria said it received a distress call from someone on the boat on Sunday at about 1:20 p.m.

Coast guard rescue boats, a Royal Canadian Air Forces helicopter and a plane from Canadian Forces Base Comox were all dispatched to look for those who were thrown into the water, and a broadcast was put out asking marine vessels in the area to help in the search, Sub-Lt. Melissa Kia said Sunday.

Two commercial float planes also responded to the call for help and one of them spotted the people in the water and directed rescuers to the location, she said.

Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne said the incident has shaken the community of about 1,800 residents.

“Everybody’s understandably concerned and a bit shaken up,” she said. “Of course we’re a very small and tight-knit community and news travels really fast. There’s a lot of concern for the friends and families of the victims and survivors.”

Osborne said the fish boat incident occurred in an area where the whale watching vessel Leviathan II capsized in October 2015, resulting in six deaths when 27 people were dumped into the water.

The Transportation Safety Board has yet to complete its investigation into the cause of the Leviathan II incident, but investigators said shortly after the tragedy that passengers had been standing on one side of the top deck when a wave hit the opposite side of the vessel.

“It is fairly close to where the Leviathan II went down,” said Osborne. “It’s the outside of Clayoquot Sound facing the open ocean. It’s in an area where a lot of whale watching guides and fishing guides are very familiar with.”

Linteau said the RCMP is continuing its investigation into the cause of accident.

A Transportation Safety Board of Canada spokesman said the agency is reviewing the incident but has yet to decide if it will launch a formal investigation.

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