Volunteers joined search and rescue crews to search for three missing Tla-o-qui-aht fishermen whose vessel sank near Tofino on June 15. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

Volunteers joined search and rescue crews to search for three missing Tla-o-qui-aht fishermen whose vessel sank near Tofino on June 15. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

Human remains discovered near Tofino

The remains were discovered near the area that a vessel carrying five men sank on June 15.

Human remains were discovered near Tofino last week.

The B.C. Coroners Service confirmed that remains were found near Echachist Island on July 18.

“I can confirm that we’re in the early stages of an investigation involving unidentified human remains found,” Coroners Service communications manager Andy Watson told the Westerly News on July 19. “The remains were discovered in the water. We are currently doing the work to determine the identity of the deceased.”

The identity of the remains had not been released on July 23.

Echachist Island is near the area that a vessel carrying five men sank on June 15. Two of the men reached shore safely, but Tla-o-qui-aht fishermen Marcel Martin, Carl Michael and Terrance Brown Jr. remain unaccounted for. A GoFundMe Page for the men’s families was launched on June 20 and had raised $39,723 of its $90,000 goal on July 23.

In a video posted on the GoFundMe page, Tla-o-qui-aht elected Chief Moses Martin noted all three men had young children and families.

“It’s a difficult thing to lose anyone, never mind three of them at the same time,” Martin said. “They lived on the ocean, those three guys, and made their living for their families on the ocean and now they’re gone. We need to do everything we can to support the families in whatever way we can.”

A Tla-o-qui-aht spokesperson said the search for the three missing men has continued.

“We have teams on the ground and on the water,” the spokesperson said. “The families have been grieving for about a month now and this comes at a time where hopefully it can give some closure to the families, but also brings up a lot of emotions for everyone involved…We’re going to keep on searching at the request of the families and we’re hoping more closure can be found for the families.”

He added the families are seeking space to grieve and heal.

“It’s a really sensitive time,” he said. “There’s a lot of speculation and that doesn’t really allow a lot of space for people to heal.”