December 19, 2018 1:01 pm
Updated: December 19, 2018 1:09 pm

BC Ferries crew rescues boater from ‘90 km/h winds, massive waves’ near Moresby Island

WATCH: A B.C. ferry diverted from its Tsawwassen-to-Swartz Bay route to save a man on a sinking boat, getting there in the nick of time. Kylie Stanton reports.

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The Coastal Celebration just happened to be in the right place at the right time on Monday night, coming to the rescue of a boater near Moresby Island.

“We did receive a mayday call from a person who was on a 24-foot aluminum vessel that was in distress,” BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall said. “It was actually sinking.”

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The captain responded, rerouting the vessel in between Portland and Moresby Island. Passengers on board the five o’clock sailing were alerted that a rescue attempt was in progress.

Robin Junger jumped out of his truck to take a look, capturing some of it on video.

READ MORE: DFO issues warning to fishing boats after B.C. ferry caught in gillnet

“It was completely dark, 90-kilometre-an-hour winds, massive waves,” he said. “We were discussing: could the coast guard get there in time? Because we thought maybe the BC Ferries guys couldn’t go out – the weather was that bad.”

They were wrong. Within minutes, a BC Ferries rescue boat was deployed with three crew members in survival suits. They managed to make their way to the boater, bringing him on board just in time.

WATCH: (Aug. 31, 2018) BC Ferries training accident cancels long weekend sailings

“It went down seconds or a minute or whatever after he was plucked from it,” Junger said. “This guy wouldn’t have made it without them–I’m very confident of that.”

It’s a situation crew members train for–running drills on a regular basis. Still, there have been two incidents in the past year during which employees were injured in an exercise.

Marshall said it just goes to show the severity of the risk.

READ MORE: BC Ferries workers fall into water during rescue drill, leads to cancellations on major route

“They training definitely pays off,” she said. “It really becomes ingrained; it becomes second nature to the crews when they hear those alarm bells ring. And they just jumped into action last night and they did save this gentleman.”

The boater was brought into the Swartz Bay government dock, where emergency crews were waiting to take him to hospital.

The whole experience left an impression on many passengers–Junger included.

“I’m pretty impressed,” he said. “I think people should be pretty thankful and know that when they’re on the ferry, they have people who have that type of training.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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