Third attempt to reach sunken vessel aborted; Another attempt planned

Divers call off search of sunken vessel in Discovery Passage due to strong tides

Tides in Discovery Passage are hampering the effort to recover bodies in a vessel that sunk near the Elk Falls Mill.

“The RCMP Underwater Recovery Team (dive team) with the assistance of the PV Higgit made another attempt to dive the vessel this morning, however currents were too strong and the dive was aborted,” RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Poppy Hallam said at 2:28 p.m. The team plans to make another attempt this afternoon.

A dive yesterday had to be cancelled as well as.

Barry Sewid, 34, and Mike Kelly, 29, are the two missing crew members of a 67-foot steel landing craft, Atlantic Harvester 1, which was on its way to Campbell River when it started taking on water around 2 a.m. Saturday.  When it capsized, it was approximately half a mile due north from the docks at the former Elk Falls Mill in 75 metres of water.

Searchers located the sunken vessel and marked it. A ROV (remotely operated underwater vehicle) was deployed. According to sources, the first task the ROV faced was to locate the vessel with sonar but attempts to find the ship were unsuccessful on the first day. On the second day the ROV crew located the ship 1,000 feet away from the original location given. The ROV was deployed and was able to attach a line to the actual vessel, enter it and locate one casualty.

A dive to the vessel on Monday by RCMP divers had to be cancelled because the weather and tides made it unsafe..

Plans to dive to the vessel Tuesday by The RCMP Underwater Recovery Team had to be called off again due to rough seas and bad weather. With better weather, the search efforts continued today with a dive by the RCMP dive team but tides proved to be too strong. Another attempt is planned for some time later this afternoon

It all began early Saturday morning Campbell River RCMP were advised by Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) that a small vessel was taking on water approximately five kilometres north of Campbell River with three males on board.

Campbell River RCMP, RCMP vessel PV Higgit, the Cormorant Helicopter from CFB Comox, and three coast guard vessels responded at 2:48 a.m. this morning.

An Alaskan ferry in the area answered the mayday and deployed a zodiac into the water. One man, Kyle Benoit, who had escaped as the vessel capsized was rescued.

Campbell River RCMP provided lights on the shoreline that night to help guide the two missing men in case they were attempting to swim to shore.

A comprehensive search by sea, air and land, with the assistance of Campbell River Ground Search and Rescue failed to turn up any signs of the two missing men.