Nanaimo Harbour Patrol, a Canadian Coast Guard hovercraft, Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue, a Royal Canadian Air Force CH-149 Cormorant helicopter from 19 Wing Comox and Protection Island residents have been scouring the island’s shoreline and waters for a man who possibly fell overboard from a boat last night.
Emergency crews and the Nanaimo Harbour Patrol vessel NPA Eagle responded shortly after 9 p.m. Monday, April 11, when witnesses reported that two people were heard in the water.
Capt. Satinder Singh, Port of Nanaimo harbour master, said the NPA Eagle, operated by Chris Dumas and Mike Banning, and two Nanaimo RCMP officers responded to Mark Bay, near Saysutshun and Protection Island.
Singh said one woman was found in the water and was pulled aboard and taken to an ambulance at the boat basin marina in downtown Nanaimo. She had been in the water an estimated 20 minutes.
“RCMP and patrol division discovered the woman … she was handed over to B.C. Ambulance Service care at F-Dock shortly after,” Singh said.
The NPA Eagle and the two RCMP officers returned to help with the search for the second person and continued with the search until past midnight Tuesday, April 12. RCM-SAR, the Canadian Coast Guard and the RCAF helicopter continued the search operation.
Josh Minami, RCM-SAR No. 27 spokesman, said the auxiliary coast guard unit and other search and rescue resources continued searching until about 2 a.m. and returned to base after no one was found in the water.
“What we understand was, nobody actually witnessed anybody entering the water, however, there were witnesses that heard what sounded like two people in the water … We took on RCMP and started a search of the vessels in the immediate area and the shoreline throughout Mark Bay and Newcastle Island,” Minami said.
He said a water taxi also participated in the search, as did residents.
“It was a big show and all the folks on the waterfront and Protection Island, they were all out there with their flashlights,” Minami said. “No other person was found and … no other person was witnessed in the water … That was the challenge. There wasn’t an actual eyewitness. It was just people heard what was going on.”
Reserve Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman, said police were called to Mark Bay after two people were heard engaged in what sounded like an argument for about 45 minute prior to witnesses hearing what sounded like people in the water. The woman, 58, was found clinging to the side of a sailboat she lives on with the 59-year-old man who is missing.
“We located an adult woman in the water and she was in bad shape,” O’Brien said. “She was extremely inebriated. She was taken to hospital to be treated for hypothermia and her severe level of intoxication.”
O’Brien said police have searched for the man at his workplace, have pinged his cell phone and followed up on other methods to locate him, but haven’t found him.
“We’re working on the premise that he may have, unfortunately, drowned and at this point he has not been located,” O’Brien said. “The search will continue for the foreseeable future.”
O’Brien said search and rescue teams are doing a ground search, multiple vessels are searching the water and the RCMP dive team is also searching underwater.
Nanaimo RCMP are asking anyone who has information about the missing man to call 911 immediately.