Trial hears radio calls from bridge as doomed B.C. ferry runs aground

The Canadian Press
Associated Press

VANCOUVER - The criminal negligence trial into a fatal passenger ferry sinking off British Columbia has heard dramatic radio calls as the Queen of the North ran aground and the crew mustered an evacuation.

Crown prosecutors at Karl Lilgert's trial played radio transmissions along the ferry's journey from Prince Rupert, with everything appearing normal for the first several hours.

Shortly after midnight on March 22, 2006, an unidentified voice reports to a marine operator that the vessel is approaching a location known as Sainty Point, where the ferry was supposed to have made a critical course correction.

About 20 minutes later, someone from the ship reports running aground and, several minutes after that, the ship is listing, taking on water and its crew are herding passengers into life boats and life rafts.

The broadcasts also capture the initial communications with Hartley Bay, a nearby First Nation community, whose residents jumped into boats in the middle of the night and raced to the scene.

There were 101 passengers and crew on the ferry, but passengers Gerald Foisy and Shirley Rosette were soon discovered to be missing and eventually presumed drowned.