British Columbia

Passenger aboard B.C. Ferries crash decries 'serious lack of leadership' during 10-hour ordeal

Katie Budd, one of the passengers on the B.C. Ferries vessel that crashed on Tuesday, is frustrated at what she describes as a complete lack of communication and leadership during the incident.

Queen of Surrey collided with a dock at the Langdale ferry terminal on Tuesday

The Queen of Surrey sits atop a dock at the Langdale terminal on Tuesday morning after missing its approach to the dock and colliding with the berthing structure around 8 a.m. (Justin McElroy/CBC)

Katie Budd, one of the passengers on the BC Ferries vessel that crashed on Tuesday, isn't upset the accident happened or about being trapped aboard the ferry for an entire day.  

She's frustrated at what she describes as a complete lack of communication and leadership during the incident.

"There was no announcement for over an hour after we had hit [the dock], so you didn't know what was going on," Budd said. "It was kind of shocking."

The Queen of Surrey banged into a dock after pulling into the Langdale ferry terminal on the Sunshine Coast and became stuck near the shore just after 8 a.m. on Tuesday.

Just before the crash, Budd said, a warning to "Brace, brace, brace" was announced over the speakers. And then there was silence.

"There was a really serious lack of leadership in a situation that went sideways," she said.

Budd, who has a background in commercial fishing, grabbed her dog and went to the upper deck, trying to figure out an escape route if necessary.

Katie Budd says it was strange to watch everything going on outside the ship but still get few updates from staff. (Katie Budd)

'Just no guidance'

Passengers were eventually told the ship had collided with the dock — something that was apparent to anyone who looked out the window, Budd said — but the updates were few and far between.  

There was free food and drink but, according to Budd, many passengers weren't told. No one seemed to have answers about what would happen next.

"A lot of these people are tourists. They don't know what to expect or what's going on," she said. "It wasn't a very dramatic situation, but there was just no guidance or direction." 

B.C. Minister of Transportation Claire Trevena said the incident is being investigated.

"I'm still waiting to hear from BC Ferries," she said. "But I think the fact that when this happens, it becomes big news [is] because they do have a good safety record."

Queen of Surrey had 285 passengers on board. No injuries were reported. (Justin McElroy/CBC)

The 285 passengers remained on board for about 10 hours before they were allowed to disembark. BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall said a decision was made not to evacuate passengers.  

"It was much safer to keep people onboard," she said.

"Obviously, it was frustrating for customers — nobody intended to be on a ship that long."

For Budd, though, the wait wasn't the problem. 

"When you're on a boat, stuff can go sideways," she said. "That's not the issue. It's how you handle it."

With files from The Early Edition

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