Some passengers who escaped from the sinking Queen of the North off the B.C. coast earlier this year are suffering psychological stress, according to court documents filed as part of a potential class action lawsuit against BC Ferries and several crew members.
There were 101 passengers and crew aboard the B.C. ferry when it ran into an island south of Prince Rupert in the middle of the night and began to sink.
Two peopleare still missing and presumed dead afterthe accident. The rest were able to board life rafts and were rescued.
Lawyer Jim Hanson,who filed the affidavits with the court, saidmany of the passengers are sufferingtypical symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
"We've talked to a person, who, every time she sees the BC Ferries logo, has an anxiety attack. There are other people suffering rages. These are uncontrollable rages when they encounter some circumstance that reminds them of being on that vessel," he said.
Long list of ailments reported
A total of 17 passengers report an extensive list of ailments, including hair loss, headaches, anxiety attacks, tearful outbursts, nausea, insomnia, disturbing dreams and depression.
Jill Lawrence and Ryan MacDonald were among the passengers who abandoned ship that night, and both claim subsequent health problems.
"When we first got off the ferry, I was covered in a rash from head to toe. Since then, I've been diagnosed with lupus —and stress causes lupus," Lawrence said.
"My fiancÃ© can't remember anything for the three to four months after it happened."
Clive Seabrook, an RCMP officer, was on his way to a new posting on Vancouver Island with his wife when the Queen of the North went down.
"I noticed a significant change in my wife's personality. She is by nature a very happy, bubbly personality. After the sinking she was unhappy."
Seabrook said his wife has lost her spark, has had trouble sleeping and suffers nightmares.
Life changed, passenger says
Barney Dudoward told CBC News the memory of being on the Queen of the North as it hit the rocks just keeps playing over and over again in his head.
"When I first heard it hit, scraping, I knew something was terribly wrong. I was thinking if this thing's going to roll over, I'm going to be out on deck somewhere."
He said he wonders what would have happened if the ferry hadn't rested on the rocks for an hour before sinking.
"If the boat had rolled over right away or something, there might have been nobody getting off the boat. It sure really changes your life. It affects your life for the rest of your life."
The class-action lawsuit, whichalleges recklessness and gross negligence on the part of the crew, goes to a certification hearing in B.C. Supreme Court in May.
The cause of the accident is still under investigation.