Coast Guard conducts rescue of water taxi carrying school children; no injuries

Coast Guard conducts rescue of water taxi carrying school children; no injuries
Canadian Coast Guard
CCGS Cape Naden was one of the boats called to respond to a mayday call involving a water taxi carrying school children.

The Coast Guard says there are no injuries following an engine fire on a water taxi that was carrying school children this morning.

At 7:38 a.m. the Marine Communication and Traffic Services received a mayday call from the water taxi MV The Graduate reporting a fire on board.

At the time of the fire, the water taxi was carrying 33 people, including school children, and was travelling from Saturna Island to Pender Island.

The Gulf Islands School District says there were 31 students on board the water taxi at the time.

BC Ferries Coastal Renaissance, HMCS Yellowknife and vessel Scholarship all responded to the call this morning.

Astrid Chang, manager of corporate communications for BC Ferries says they were called in to help.

“Just after 7:30 a.m., the Coastal Renaissance was asked by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre to assist with a vessel in distress in Active Pass,” Chang said in a statement to CHEK. “The crew launched the rescue boat, but did not take anyone on board. We were stood down by JRCC shortly after.”

The fire was extinguished and 32 were people evacuated from the ship.

One crew member of The Graduate and CCGS Cape Naden remained with the water taxi until it was able to be towed to port.

Gulf Islands Water Taxi has deferred all questions to the Gulf Islands School District.

Scott Benwell, superintendent of the school district says staff met with students as they arrived at the docks at Salt Spring.

“The district has organized supports for students at their school for those who may have been adversely affected by this morning’s event,” Benwell said in a statement. “Please know that the district is deeply concerned by this event, and we will continue to monitor until the situation is resolved and all students are safe at school.”

Benwell says the return water taxi trips should not be impacted but the district will contact if that changes.

This story has been updated with a statement from the Gulf Islands School District.

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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