The man who died Sunday afternoon at North Saanich Marina was a “seasoned boater” who had been a “long-term customer” at the marina, said the marina’s spokesperson.
Brook Castelsky, chief operating officer of the Oak Marine Group, said the man in his 50s was part of a family outing on Mother’s Day.
“We are very sad that this tragic accident occurred, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this time,” he said.
Two other individuals were injured when a large fire at the marina’s fuel dock destroyed the dock, the victim’s vessel and another moored vessel.
“The fire originated aboard a vessel that had just completed fuelling and was set to depart the marina,” Castelsky said.
When asked about the relationship between the explosion heard by multiple witnesses prior to the fire, Castelsky repeated that the fire started on the vessel. “But I can’t comment on what created the fire or the explosion, and authorities are completing their investigation on that [issue] at this time.”
Castelsky said the entire community at the marina — management, staff and customers — are part of a “close” family. “There has been a lot of great communication and we are all supporting each other,” he said. “After a tragic accident like this, it is important.”
Most of all, everybody is thinking about the family impacted on a “day that was a beautiful afternoon to go out on the water with your family,” said Castelsky. “It’s tragic. We are thinking of them at this time.”
Castelsky said the fire could have been worse and thanked the multiple agencies that responded.
“They did an amazing job and without their efforts, the fire could have been substantially worse,” he said. Castelsky also praised the “heroic efforts” of a staff member, who helped minimize the effect of the incident by following marina procedures in turning off fuel valves and calling authorities.
“There were hundreds of heroes that day,” he said. That staff member, he added later, was not injured.
While it is not clear when the fuel dock will resume operations, the marina itself is “back to normal other than fueling.”
Cpl. Chris Manseau of the Sidney/North Saanich RCMP predicts the investigation could take weeks, if not months.
“There are lots of moving pieces, lots of different agencies work on this,” he said Tuesday morning as the investigation continued.
Part of the complexity lies in the investigation’s multi-jurisdictional nature with several agencies investigating the incident, starting with the RCMP (which currently deems the fatality non-suspicious), the BC Coroners Service and WorkSafeBC.
While the cause remains far from resolved, Manseau said investigators have recovered part of the vessel and confirmed it was the origin of the fire.
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