Exactly one year after a whale-watching vessel capsized near Tofino killing six people, the victims were remembered in a special ceremony in which the District of Tofino unveiled a commemorative plaque.
On Oct.25, 2015, the Leviathan II, a 20-metre cruiser vessel with 27 people on board, capsized near Plover Reefs, west of Vargas Island, sending passengers into the frigid waters. Twenty-one people were rescued, but six passengers, five British citizens and one Australian national, did not survive.
Two of the deceased were residing in Canada. Katie Taylor, 29, was living in Whistler, B.C. while Jack Slater, 76, was from Toronto.
David Thomas, 50, and his 18-year-old son Stephen, who suffered from Down’s Syndrome, were from Swindon while Nigel Hooker, 63, was visiting from Southampton.
The body of Australian tourist Raveshan Morgan Pillay, 27, was found by surfers off Vargas Island, weeks after the boat capsized.
PHOTO: The commemorative plaque unveiled in Tofino today
The survivors were helped by members of the Ahousaht First Nation, who were widely praised for their efforts in the wake of the tragedy.
On Monday, one of the survivors, Calgary’s Dwayne Mazereeuw, arrived in Tofino to help break ground for a skateboarding park to benefit local youth as a way to say thank you to his rescuers. Mazereeuw and his wife survived by holding on to a life ring for more than 30 minutes before being pulled to safety by the Ahousaht fishermen.
WATCH: Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne speaks on the one year anniversary of the whale-watching disaster that killed six people and brought international attention to the tiny community.
The exact cause of Leviathan II’s capsizing is still under investigation. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is expected to release its report next year.
At the time, it was alleged passengers and crew crowded the top deck of the vessel when it was hit by a wave, causing it to tilt and capsize. It was also alleged none of the passengers were wearing life-jackets.
The vessel was operated by Jamie’s Whaling Station that has a history of prior accidents. In May, German brothers Christian and Dirk Barchfeld, who survived the sinking, filed a class-action lawsuit filed against the owner of the company and the boat’s captain, accusing them of negligence for allowing the Leviathan II out in treacherous ocean conditions. They are also seeking damages for psychological and physical harm.
WATCH: Survivor of Leviathan II sinking thanks his rescuers with a new skateboarding park.
But the company says the incident was caused by an “act of God,” which could not have been reasonably predicted nor prevented.
None of the allegations in the lawsuits have been proven in court.
With files from the Canadian Press