Ferry trial hears from coast guard member
VANCOUVER - A member of the coast guard has recalled heading to the Queen of the North passenger ferry in the darkness seven years ago only to arrive after the ship had already slipped below the water.
Morgan Chisholm told Karl Lilgert's criminal negligence causing death trial that he was on the Sir Wilfrid Laurier coast guard ship in the early hours of March 22, 2006, when the ferry hit an island.
Chisholm says the fast-response vessel encountered strong winds and choppy seas as raced towards the sinking ferry, but the weather had calmed as it reached the southeastern tip of Gil Island — the island the ferry struck.
He told the B.C. Supreme Court trial that he could see the glow of the ship's lights on the clouds, but the light suddenly disappeared around the same time they heard over the radio that the ferry was gone.
Chisholm and his coast guard colleagues arrived at the scene shortly after and assisted in the rescue, which saved the lives of 99 passengers and crew but left two people unaccounted for.
Lilgert, the officer in charge on the bridge when the ship hit the island, has pleaded not guilty to the charges.