Man feared dead in B.C. capsizing identified as 'loving husband, brother, uncle'
CTV Vancouver Island
Published Tuesday, March 7, 2017 3:50PM PST
Last Updated Tuesday, March 7, 2017 6:36PM PST
Investigators spent the day searching for answers after a herring boat flipped and capsized near Comox, while one crew member remained missing and was presumed drowned.
Alert Bay resident Mel Rocchio, 51, was on the vessel “Miss Cory” fishing for herring near Cape Lazo, about three nautical miles northeast of Comox, with four other crew members.
Just before 4 p.m. the boat flipped, tossing four crew members into the ocean while Rocchio was trapped in the engine room, according to his brother Jim.
“They had a really big set. The boat was listing and Mel went down into the engine room to turn the pumps on, and while he was down there the boat rolled over,” he said.
As the boat rolled an emergency raft deployed immediately, and the operator of the skiff got the crew members tossed overboard to safety.
A Cormorant helicopter from 19 Wing Comox as well as vessels from the Coast Guard, 442 squadron and Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue went to work trying to find Rocchio.
The search was eventually called off around 7 p.m. Monday night and handed to the RCMP as a missing persons file.
Officials say weather was calm when the incident happened and believe Rocchio was wearing a personal floatation device at the time.
Jim Rocchio says he wants his brother to be remembered as the big-hearted man he was.
“He was a loving husband, brother, uncle. He didn’t have any kids of his own,” he said.
RCMP officers and Worksafe BC investigators are now speaking with commercial fisherman in an effort to figure out exactly what caused the vessel to capsize.
“You don’t want to blame anybody, but you want to learn from any good that can come out of this, to be able to help somebody else,” said Jim.