Water taxi hits rocks during trip to Ahousaht, five sent to hospital

Eric Plummer, November 18, 2019

A boat collided with rocks on the evening of Nov. 16, resulting in five being sent to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. A boat from Ahousaht was the first to respond, followed by a Coast Guard vessel. (Eric Plummer photo)

Ahousaht, BC — 

A routine water taxi trip between Tofino and Ahousaht became a frightening experience for over a dozen passengers, when the vessel hit rocks Saturday evening.

BC Emergency Health Services received a call at 7:38 p.m. on the foggy, rainy night of Nov. 16 after a water taxi collided with rocks. Sources from Ahousaht say it occurred near Monks Island at a rocky location that is normally indicated at night by a blinker, and that the water taxi was the MV Hakoom.

Greg Louie, the First Nation’s chief councillor, said 13 to 15 people were aboard the boat.

“It was a rough night. Winds and high waters,” he recalled. “It was quite scary for the passengers that were on the boat.”

A Canadian Coast Guard vessel was dispatched, but a boat from Ahousaht reached the scene first, according to the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre. More help followed from Vancouver Island.

“Two ambulances were dispatched,” said BC Emergency Health Services in an email to Ha-Shilth-Sa. “One paramedic crew attended with the Coast Guard to retrieve five individuals, while the other paramedics met the rescue team at the dock. All five patients were cared for and transported to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.”

The remaining occupants were transported to Ahousaht aboard the local vessel that came to help.

Those on board said they were lucky the water taxi didn’t flip, and following a family practice, some passengers burned their clothes after the accident and gave away jewellery.

Exactly two weeks before the Nov. 16 accident another boat collision occurred near Tofino, sending a family of four to different hospitals. On the evening of Nov. 2 that vessel also hit rocks at Deadman’s Island during a trip to the Tla-o-qui-aht community of Opitsaht on Meares Island. Two males were reported to have sustained serious injuries and transported to hospitals in Victoria and Vancouver. Updates on their condition have not been disclosed.