A Duncan man was among the three men who died after their commercial fishing boat capsized and sank in the waters off Estevan Point north of Tofino on Saturday night.
Duncan’s Wesley Lief Hegglund, the captain of the 33-metre fishing boat Caledonian, and two of his crew-members were found dead while a fourth crew member, the sole survivor, was rescued from a raft about 1:40 a.m. on Sunday.
Hegglund, 55, whose life-long ambition was to be a commercial fisherman, had been living the dream.
“Wes graduated with an honours degree in Hard Knocks from Hecate Straight University; an institution reserved for only the toughest commercial fishermen on the West Coast,” read his obituary, written by his sister. “Through hard work and determination he attained his lifelong ambition of becoming a commercial fishing vessel captain — a career he enjoyed immensely.”
Coast Guard spokesman Dan Bate said the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre was notified something was amiss about 10 p.m. Saturday night after the shore-based management for the Caledonian had been unable to raise the vessel at their designated call-in time.
“There was no distress call from the vessel,” Bate said. “They couldn’t raise the vessel on radio, there was a loss of communication.”
Four coast guard boats and the Nootka Inshore Rescue boat were dispatched.
The MS Statendam, a Holland America cruise ship also aided in the search along with several other fishing vessels including the Arctic Ocean, Bate said.
“All those vessels participated in the search, it was quite a large search,” Bate said.
Overhead a Department of National Defense Buffalo aircraft and Cormorant helicopter provided eyes from above.
“Approximately 1:38 a.m. the Nootka rescue boat located one survivor in a life raft,” Bate said. The crewman was wearing a life jacket.
The search continued through the day for the three remaining crew members.
“Unfortunately, all three were later discovered deceased,” Bate said, noting it’s believed Hegglund, Keith Edward Standing, 48, of Port Alberni, an engineer on the vessel, and Doug White, 41, also of Port Alberni, a deckhand, were not wearing life jackets.
The Transportation Board, RCMP and the Coroner’s Service are all investigating.
“It’s quite a serious case. Very tragic,” Bate said. “This type of thing doesn’t happen on the coast too often.”
The last one with similar casualties, Bate said, was the 2004 sinking of the Hope Bay, a 22-metre fishing boat that capsized and sank in Queen Charlotte Sound north of Vancouver Island. Three crew members died in that incident and there was one survivor.
Hegglund is survived by his wife and best friend Angela, his father Earl, son Cory Burton (Staci), siblings Carl Hegglund Jr (Mary-Anne), John Hegglund (Amanda), Vicki Fenton (Tim), Maria Rose (Andrew) and a host of nieces and nephews.
A celebration of life is slated for Saturday, Sept. 12 at 2 p.m. at the Crofton Community Centre. All are welcome.
“A lover not a fighter, Wes was and will always be, ‘the best man,’ in his life and work,” said the obituary. “Loved by all who knew him, he will be deeply missed.”