A family of four remains in hospitals after their boat crashed near the Meares Island village of Opitsaht on Saturday, Nov. 2. (Eric Plummer photo)
A family of four were rushed to hospital Saturday evening, when their boat struck a rock between Tofino and the Tla-o-qui-aht community of Opitsaht.
The 14-foot boat hit a rock at Deadman’s Island, which is located partway between Tofino and the Meares Island village. The first emergency call came to the Canadian Coast Guard’s Joint Rescue Coordination Centre at 8:20 p.m., which immediately dispatched a boat from the Tofino lifeboat station.
Numerous local boats also rushed to scene, and when the Coast Guard vessel reached the family all were out of the water, although some were in serious condition as a result of the collision.
“A Coast Guard rescue specialist was put on board one of these vessels of opportunity to help with first aid,” said a spokesperson with the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre.
All four victims were sent to Tofino General Hospital, although two males in serious condition were later sent for higher medical care in Victoria and Vancouver by ground and air ambulance. The other two females remained in stable condition, according to BC Emergency Health Services.
On Monday, Nov. 4 all of the victims were still in hospitals, according to Saya Masso, interim tribal administrator for the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation.
“Thankfully no one ended up in the water and everyone is on shore,” he said. “The families are all helping them through medical services or assessments.”
Masso said that Saturday was a particularly foggy night around Tofino. Although residents of the Meares Island village of Opitsaht regularly travel to Tofino, such incidents are rare.
“I’ve been at home 20 years living in the village and it’s only been a handful of times that I’ve heard of stuff like this,” said Masso. “You always have to respect of ocean and the elements.”
On New Year’s Day in 2017 a boat with five occupants overturned when it hit rocks at Deadman’s Island. On a day with particularly choppy and frigid water, the five were found hanging from the tipped boat when local resident Cleaver Fletcher found them shortly after they left Tofino. All five survived.