RCMP were searching local waters on Monday for three missing mariners whose vessel capsized near Tofino early Friday morning. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

RCMP were searching local waters on Monday for three missing mariners whose vessel capsized near Tofino early Friday morning. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

Communities show support as search for capsized fishers near Tofino enters fourth day

“There’s a lot of shock in the community in terms of how we could end up at this place.”

The search for three missing Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation fishermen whose vessel capsized near Tofino early Friday morning entered its fourth day on Monday.

Five men were on the tin boat when it reportedly sank around 3 a.m. Friday. Two were rescued and stated that three others were still missing. Members of the First Nation have been supporting each other at Tofino’s First Street Dock while they wait for news to come in.

“We’re hoping for some answers to exactly what happened. We’re hoping and praying that we’re still going to find some people within the area that are still survivors to come home to their families,” Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation member Elmer Frank told the Westerly at the dock.

“There’s a lot of mixed emotions. With any kind of event such as this one, you’re going to be confused. There’s a lot of confusion. Emotions are going to be high for the next couple of days and, I think, we just need to respect that as searchers and we also need to respect the families.”

Search and Rescue crews halted their efforts over the weekend, but Frank said at least 12 locally-owned vessels went out Monday morning as residents continue to search for the three missing men.

“The dedication that they’re showing is all about respect. Respect of those that are missing, respect for those that have unanswered questions,” he said. “They’re out there to show respect for each other as First Nations and community members.”

Sgt. Todd Pebernat of the Tofino RCMP said SAR stood down after an “exhaustive” two-day effort.

“They covered areas five and six times over. I think it just came to a point where there was nowhere else to search,” he said. “Now, West Coast Marine with the dive team are covering areas they couldn’t cover.”

He said West Coast Marine has an RCMP dive team and sonar equipment actively searching.

“They’re on the water right now, utilizing whatever tools they have, to try to locate the vessel and they’ll continue until they’re confident that they’ve exhausted every avenue that they could possibly search,” he said.

He added RCMP have met with the affected families.

“Obviously it’s a very difficult, emotional time for them, but we want to make sure they understand that we’re doing everything we can to exhaust the search,” he said.

RCMP have not released the identities of the missing men. Frank said all three are respected members of the Nation and the situation has many in shock.

“They’re well known fishermen in our community and you just never expect that these kind of things would happen. So, there’s a lot of shock in the community in terms of how we could end up at this place,” he said.

Frank said the West Coast’s support for the Tla-o-qui-aht during the search has been “overwhelming.”

“It certainly really demonstrates that we’re one strong community within our area,” he said. “We really are one community.”

Tofino mayor Josie Osborne said the mood at First Street Dock was quiet and somber Monday morning.

“Each day is a little bit different and, as news or no news come forward each day, there’s still a very strong sense of support, compassion and love and so much that’s being offered in terms of just physically being with family members and with community members,” she said.

“I don’t think we can underestimate just how important it is to come together and to be together as humans…Unfortunately, this is not the first time that we’ve been through this. I’ve learned so much about how important it is to physically be with people. It’s challenging. It’s difficult for each person. Everybody handles it a different way but the fact that we’re all here for each other is what’s really important at a time like this.”

She added Tofino and the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation have a strong connection.

“These are the times that really matter and we really know just how deep our friendship is,” she said. “I really want to extend a heartfelt thanks to all the community members and businesses and all the people who have been here and been so supportive…It means a lot.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dan Law is Tofino’s new mayor. (Westerly file photo)
Dan Law elected mayor of Tofino

Cathy Thicke and Jacky Challenger earn council seats.

District of Tofino election official Jayson Towers and election deputy chief Cass Spence welcome Tofitians to the polls. (Nora O’Malley photo)
TOFINO BY-ELECTION 2021: General voting day is today

Polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Tofino Community Hall

Nelly and Jens Heyduck hold samples of their Ahoy Bags made from discarded sails. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Ucluelet’s Ahoy Bags up for two Small Business BC Awards

German-Canadian wife and husband team transform old sails into one-of-a-kind beach bags

The Independent Investigations Office of BC is investigating the shooting of a Tla-o-qui-aht man by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht on Feb. 27. (Black Press Media file photo)
‘Police have killed more TFN members than COVID has,’ First Nation demands transparency in Tofino RCMP shooting investigation

Julian Jones, a 28 year-old Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation man was shot and killed by police on Feb. 27.

Blue Crush Concierge co-owners Ashley Wells and Erika Greenland, pictured here following COVID-19 social distancing alongside their dogs Hank and Lady Bird, are up for two SBBC awards. (Photo courtesy of Erika Greenland)
Three Tofino companies up for Small Business BC Awards

Tofino Kombucha, Blue Crush Concierge and Surf Sister all received nomination honours.

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead in ‘targeted incident’ in Metchosin

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

Most Read