Coast guard captain praises First Nations village for response to sunken ferry

The Canadian Press
Associated Press

VANCOUVER - The former captain of a coast guard vessel that responded to the sinking of the Queen of the North passenger ferry says the First Nations community of Hartley Bay should be commended for its response to the disaster.

Mark Taylor is the latest witness to testify at the trial of Karl Lilgert, a crew member who is charged with criminal negligence causing the deaths of two of the ferry's passengers.

Taylor was in command of the coast guard ship Sir Wilfrid Laurier on March 21, 2006, when his crew learned the ferry struck an island more than 30 kilometres away.

By the time Taylor's ship arrived on scene, fishing boats from the nearby community of Hartley Bay were already with the passengers and loading them off a flotilla of life rafts.

About two thirds of the passengers were taken to Hartley Bay, where they were welcomed with dry blankets and warm food, with the rest ending up on the Sir Wilfrid Laurier.

Taylor says the residents of Hartley Bay did an "excellent job" and he commends them for taking it upon themselves to respond.