According to the Chicago Tribune, an Indiana couple was injured when a whale watching boat they were on capsized off the coast of western Canada in October.
The newspaper reported that an infectious disease specialist and her husband, the CEO of an investment company, were among the 27 passengers on board the MV Leviathan II when it capsized off the coast of Vancouver Island on October 25.
At least five people died in the event and one person went missing. The doctor reportedly suffered a heart attack during the event as she was found holding onto a paddle in water that was extremely cold for about 30 to 40 minutes. Officials believe that hypothermia may have contributed to the heart attack.
Following the incident, she was treated at a nearby hospital. The CEO reportedly was trapped under the boat but was able to reach air and find a life raft. He was reportedly not seriously injured. The pair was reportedly on the boat tour with other family members who also suffered injuries including broken bones.
The capsizing event remains under investigation—officials are reviewing the weather, wreckage and the maintenance history of the 65-foot boat, according to the Tribune. The incident took place off Tofino, a popular destination for whale watchers.
Thankfully, nearby commercial fishermen saw that the boat was taking on water and were able to help rescue some passengers before rescue workers arrived.
What to Do Following a Tour Boat Accident
This incident shows how devastating tour boat accidents can be for victims. Each year, there are several tour boat capsizing events throughout the world involving whale and dolphin watching vessels. These incidents can lead to mass casualties and injuries. When these incidents take place, passengers can be sent into a panic and unaware of how to respond because they are not necessarily used to being on vessels.
This is why tour boat operators have a duty to make sure their vessels are properly maintained, and that weather and sea conditions are ideal prior to a voyage. Additionally, operators should have safety plans in place in the event that a vessel begins to take on water or has mechanical problems. This includes providing training to crewmembers and having appropriate life saving equipment on a vessel.
If you are involved in a tour boat accident, you may have legal options, including holding the operator of the vessel liable. However, you should be aware that maritime law can be confusing, so it may be in your best interest to talk to an attorney about how to best proceed with a claim.
In the video above, attorney Carolyn Latti discusses what you should do following an accident at sea.