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Captain of Leviathan II makes first statement on boat’s sinking

WATCH: A marine expert is raising questions about the investigation into last weekend's whale watching tragedy, saying officials might already have made a critical mistake. Ted Chernecki reports.

The captain of a whale-watching vessel that capsized near Tofino, B.C., says passengers and crew were heroic as the vessel went under, killing five people.

Wayne Dolby says he’s praying for the families and friends of the Britons who died and an Australian man who remains missing.

“Over the past week we have rightly heard of the courage and heroism of the people of Tofino, Ahousaht, the Coast Guard and others who assisted in the search and rescue,” wrote Dolby in a statement.

“What we have not heard as much about is the courage and heroism of my passengers and crew who were involved in this terrible ordeal.”

Most of all to the families, friends and loved ones of those who did not come home, I want to express my heartfelt sympathies and I pray your grief for their loss will not stay with you as long as it will stay with me.”

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Jamie’s has said the incident happened so quickly that there was no time to issue a distress call.

The Transportation Safety Board has said that many of the passengers were sightseeing on one side of the upper deck when a wave hit from the opposite side, flipping the boat and sending the 27 passengers and crew.

The statement came a day after family members of those who died in a whale watching tragedy west of Vargas Island gathered at a dockside memorial.

Julie Thomas, who lost her son and husband when in Sunday’s disaster, was joined by the family of missing Australian man Ravisham Pillay and members of the British Consulate.

The families also met Coast Guard personnel who had helped in the rescue operation.

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Five British nationals died when the Leviathan II sank in rough conditions on Sunday.

An investigation continues into the tragedy.

Earlier this week, investigators said sightseeing passengers crowded the top deck of a whale-watching vessel when it was hit by a wave and then rolled, sending 27 people into the water.

READ MORE: Centre of gravity high, while wave hits whale-watching boat, sending it over: TSB

– With files from The Canadian Press