2 confirmed dead, one rescued after fishing boat sinks off Vancouver Island
VICTORIA -- Two men are dead and another man has been rescued after their fishing boat sank off Vancouver Island Tuesday.
The U.S. Coast Guard says one fisherman was found alive in a lifeboat after the 20-metre Arctic Fox II fishing boat began to take on water approximately 137 kilometres off Cape Flattery, the northwesternmost point of Washington state, just south of Port Renfrew, B.C.
The Canadian military's Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria says two aircraft were dispatched from CFB Comox at approximately 2 a.m. when a mayday signal was received from the vessel.
A CH-149 Cormorant helicopter and a CC-115 Buffalo airplane flew to the scene to assist the U.S. Coast Guard after all three people aboard the vessel abandoned ship.
The U.S. Coast Guard deployed a rescue helicopter from Oregon and a surveillance plane from California to search for the missing.
Once on scene, U.S. Coast Guard aircrews immediately spotted a lifeboat with one survivor inside and hoisted him into the helicopter.
The survivor was picked up in Neah Bay, Wash., by the Cormorant helicopter and flown to Victoria.
The fisherman who was rescued reported that the other two fishermen were wearing survival suits when they went overboard.
On Tuesday afternoon, the B.C. Coroners Service confirmed it was investigating at least one death in the incident. The coroner confirmed a second body had been recovered late Tuesday evening.
"Both bodies were flown to Victoria where a coroner took jurisdiction of investigations of two deaths, both involving Canadians," said B.C. Coroners Service spokesperson Andy Watson.
The Arctic Fox II operated out of Cowichan Bay, according to harbour manager Mark Mercer. He says he has known the vessel's skipper, Tom Lindberg, for more than eight years, calling him a very experienced fisherman.
Mercer said the two crewhands on board were young men who showed up just days before the boat set sail. Mercer added that he was surprised anyone aboard survived the sinking, given the weather conditions, which he estimated involved 30-knot winds and nearly three-metre swells.
According to a Transport Canada marine vessel registry, the Arctic Fox II is a wooden boat constructed in Scotland in 1947 and registered in Victoria.
The vessel is owned by Teague Fishing Corporation of Shawnigan Lake, B.C. The company told CTV News it is not commenting on the incident at this time.
WorkSafeBC is investigating the incident.