Sad News from Canada–Two Training Fatalities

I’ve received some sad news from one of our regular contributors, Ken White, who is a search and rescue volunteer with the Canadian Coast Guard.

“I have to tell you that Sunday June 4th 2012  was a very sad day to the maritime search and rescue organization on the west coast of British Columbia when two female members of the Royal Canadian Marine Search And Rescue of Unit 12 of Sechelt British Columbia, Canada died in a training accident when there 40 ft rigid hull inflatable rescue boat capsized on top of them when they where training in a tidal rapids. On the rigid hull inflatable rescue boat the air bags on the back transom over the twin two 250 hp outboards FAILED TO INFLATE when the rigid hull inflatable rescue boat capsized on top of them pinning them in the hull of the boat and what made it worse that the floater survival suits that they where wearing was pinning the two women underneath the hull. The accident was reported quickly on VHF-FM 16 to one of the Canadian Coast Guard Radio Stations that the government of Canada wants to close that is at Comox, British Columbia by several pleasure crafts that where in  the area and they quickly responded to the scene as well. Also dispatched was a Canadian Armed Forces Search And Rescue Helicopter that had two SARTECHS (Air Force PJs) that was fully equipped with underwater dive gear. I was working on the incident  and through the Joint Rescue Co-Ordination Center Victoria I diverted a coastal ferry to do a search of the nearby waters and we also used the coastal ferry as a barrier in a position if the two missing women were being carried in the tidal rapids past the search area. Once the Canadian Armed Forces Search And Rescue Helicopter got on scene it lowered the two SARTECHS (Air Force PJs) to do an underwater search and that is where the SARTECHS (Air Force PJs) found the bodies of the two women pinned under the hull of the 40 ft rigd hull inflatable rescue boat with there floater survival suits and one by one the SARTECHS removed there limp bodies and they transferred them to two pleasure craft which the SARTECHS (Air Force PJs) boarded and started CPR on the women and they where going to be transferred to the Canadian Armed Forces Search Rescue Helicopter that landed nearby to take the two women to Vancouver Hospital with advanced life support. On route to the hospital the SARTECHs (Air Force PJs) worked very hard on the women with CPR but when they had landed in Vancouver the two women did not have a pulse.”

3 thoughts on “Sad News from Canada–Two Training Fatalities

  1. I would like to thank you Chuck for the promotion to rescue controller with the Canadian Coast Guard but actually I am just a search and rescue commuincations watchstander/search and rescue volunteer

  2. They say Auxiliarist don’t put their lives on the line. I think those in the AUX side know the risk and dangers no matter if were Canadian or American. This is something the US Coast Guard AUX should have a look at and be another TCT case study.

  3. I’d point out a number of corrections to this, it was not a 40ft craft nor does it have twin 250’s. Zodiac 733’s are roughly 24 feet (7.33 meters), and from what I recall is rated only to twin 150HP engines. I’m also amazed how the media twists the use of the “airbag” aka “self righting equipment”. You do not use the system if someone is trapped under the hull, period. You would risk killing the person trying to deploy the system when someone was under it or even near it. The roll over is quite violent, and I know someone who got their leg broken in two places for being too close to the boat when it was being righted.

    The comment “FAILED TO INFLATE” also says to me that most people think its automatic, when in fact it is a manual process. There is a rope bag at the transom which is attached to the hull. You would get all survivors to swim as far away from the vessel with this rope still attached to the hull and one person would remain at the transom to pull the cord to deploy the “air bag”. That person then swims away and waits for the boat to flip. There seems to be a misconception its fully automatic.

    At the end of the day, what happened Sunday was quite tragic, and I feel for the family, friends and other volunteers of this station.

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