British Columbia

Tofino boat victims weren't wearing life-jackets, says B.C. Coroners Service

The B.C. Coroners Service has confirmed the names of five victims of Sunday's deadly capsizing of a whale-watching boat.

Australian man still missing following Sunday's tragedy that killed 5 on whale-watching tour

All of the known victims of Sunday's whale-watch capsizing near Tofino, B.C., have been identified, and were not wearing life-jackets when they were found, says the B.C. Coroners Service.

Five British nationals died when the 19-metre-long MV Leviathan II went down off the coast of Vancouver Island. Twenty-one people, including three crew members, were rescued.

The B.C. Coroners Service has confirmed the names and ages of five victims:

  • Katie Taylor, 29, of Whistler, B.C.
  • Jack Slater, 76, of Toronto.
  • Nigel Francis Hooker, 63, of Southampton, U.K.
  • David Wyndham Thomas, 50, of Swindon, U.K.
  • Stephen David Thomas, 18, also of Swindon, son of David Thomas.

Five coroners are working alongside the Transportation Safety Board and RCMP on the investigation into the incident and whether similar deaths could be prevented in the future.

It may take months, said B.C. regional coroner Matt Brown.

"Those who died in this incident deserve this [investigation], as do their family members, their loved ones, survivors and members of the community and the public."

Post-mortem examinations will be conducted on some of the victims to determine how they died, said Brown.

"The initial investigation and findings at this point suggest they weren't wearing life-jackets," he said. "Will that be part of a question of an ongoing investigation? I'm certain it will be."

Life-jackets are not required to be worn on a vessel of this size, though rescuers said at least one survivor was wearing one.

Father, son died in capsizing

The youngest victim, Stephen Thomas, had Down syndrome and was an award-winning photographer and blogger. His father, David, was a managing architect with Microsoft, according to U.K. reports.

University of Nottingham student Paul Thomas, 22, told the Swindon Advertiser his mother, Julie, was also on the boat, but survived and is recuperating in hospital with minor injuries. Thomas is flying to B.C. today to be with his mother and has asked the public to respect his family's privacy.

In a Facebook post, Michele Slater Brown mourned the loss of her father, Jack Slater.

This photograph of the MV Leviathan II was shot by Albert Titian as Ahousaht First Nation boats scrambled to help those forced into the water as the boat sank. (Albert Titian/Facebook)

"Our hearts are broken today, our father was one of the people who lost their lives on the whale-watching tragedy in Tofino," said the post.

The British consul general in Vancouver, Rupert Potter, called the accident "a serious tragedy" and said he will be travelling to Tofino to help any affected families.

Eighteen people were taken to Tofino General Hospital Sunday, and some were subsequently transferred to other hospitals.

Four patients remained in hospital on Monday night, one each at Tofino General, Nanaimo Regional General, Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria and Vancouver General. No information on their conditions was available.

The search resumed this morning for a sixth person — an Australian man who was also on the whale-watching boat.

The U.K.'s Daily Mail is reporting that the man is a 27-year-old tourist from Sydney. 

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed it's "providing consular assistance" to an Australian family following the incident. The missing man's girlfriend's father was among the dead, the Australian Associated Press reported.


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