A crew member on board a fishing vessel is presumed to have drowned after the boat capsized Monday afternoon off Cape Lazo in Comox.
The report of a fishing boat that sank “very suddenly” came in around 4 p.m., said Capt. Greg Clarke of the Joint Rescue Communication Centre in Victoria. A Cormorant helicopter was dispatched from CFB Comox, as well as the Canadian Coast Guard, and the volunteer search and rescue squad.
“The four members of this fishing vessel abandoned ship very quickly and were picked up by one of the many fishing vessels in the area,” Clarke said of the incident that occurred about three miles from Cape Lazo.
“Then there was information that a fifth crew member was still missing, so a search was mounted immediately.”
According to CTV Vancouver Island, the missing man is 51-year-old Alert Bay resident Mel Rocchio.
Andrew Rice was on call that afternoon for the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Unit 60 in Comox. He and six other volunteers were sent to help on their 40-foot jet boat.
“It was clear and sunny, but there were one-metre seas (and) 20 to 30 knots of wind,” said Rice, who is also the public relations officer with the Comox Valley Marine Rescue Society. He called the conditions “not ideal.”
The search went into nightfall and was ultimately unsuccessful.
“The fifth crew member is presumed to have gone down with the ship,” Clarke said. “There are reports this crew member may have been in the engine room, and reports suggest this capsizing was very fast.”
It’s not yet clear why the boat capsized. Clarke said it was too deep, about 250 to 300 metres, to conduct a dive search.
No details have been provided about the crew, though the four who were hauled out of the water had been wearing life-jackets. They were not injured.
The file has been turned over to the RCMP.