Friday, October 24, 2014

Searchers shouldn’t have left boat: dad

HALIFAX—The father of one of the men on board an overturned fishing boat says the coast guard should never have left the vessel before trying to stabilize it.
George Hopkins said today that official search crews may have needlessly lost track of the Miss Ally, which capsized sometime Sunday with five men on board.

Hopkins, whose 27-year-old son, Joel, is among the missing fishermen, conceded the coast guard may not have been able to search the inside of the 13-metre fishing boat but it could have kept an eye on it.
“They should have stayed there,” he said from his home in Woods Harbour, N.S.
“That was a big mistake, right there,” he stressed. “You don’t leave it, you leave someone by it.”
In a conference call today from Brussels, Defence minister Peter MacKay said there will be a review of the Canadian Forces response to the accident.
“I know, having grown up in Atlantic Canada, that these tragedies are devastating for the families and for the entire community, and so all efforts were made with respect to both the search-and-rescue in the early stages and now we are working with other agencies to do what we can to support the families at this time of need,” he noted.
A military aircraft headed out today to resume the search for any signs of the Miss Ally.
A sweep over the area yesterday by aircraft revealed small items of debris close to the last known position of the boat and analysis of photos taken during the air patrol suggested the items were from the vessel.
Hopkins said it doesn’t mean the boat has gone down, suggesting the materials found could have been on the deck.
“You’re going to have some debris, I mean, you’ve got lots of things on deck,” he reasoned.
“If they’ve seen parts of the hull, well that would be different.”
A spokesman for the RCMP said the coast guard vessel Sir William Alexander also was sent towards an area more than 100 km southeast of Liverpool.
About seven fishing vessels also steamed out of Woods Harbour yesterday—fed up with the response from government agencies in finding the boat.
But Hopkins said crew aboard the fishing boats reported it was too windy to continue the search today, though they planned to stay on-site to wait for the weather to improve.
Families of the fishermen had asked federal authorities to attempt to recover the hull of the vessel and bring the bodies of the fishermen home after the search was called off.
The upturned boat was last spotted by the coast guard Tuesday afternoon, shortly before the search was called off.
Hopkins also was critical of the initial efforts to find a life raft believed to be on board, insisting that an infrared photo taken by the U.S. Coast Guard of an object on the surface was Miss Ally’s hull, not a life raft.
“There was no raft, there never was,” Hopkins remarked.
“They wasted a lot of time looking for a raft that wasn’t there, I think.”

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