The BC Coroners Service is confirming they were notified of two deaths related to a fishing vessel incident early Tuesday morning.
In an email late Tuesday night, the service says, “both bodies were flown to Victoria where a coroner took jurisdiction of investigations of two deaths, both involving Canadians. Due to the privacy of the deceased, the BC Coroners Service is not releasing or confirming identity of the two males.”
The coroners’ service says its investigation “will look to determine the cause of death and, if possible, make recommendations aimed at preventing death in similar circumstances.”
The United States Coast Guard rescued one fisherman Tuesday morning and later confirmed two other people with an “unknown” status were recovered later the same morning.
All crew on the boat are from Vancouver Island.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the incident occurred about 136 kilometres (85 miles) offshore of Cape Flattery in Washington state.
There were three people on the 20-metre (66 foot) boat.
The U.S. Coast Guard said watchstanders at multiple Coast Guard units received a radio hail for help at about 2 a.m. PT from a person aboard the Canadian-based commercial fishing vessel Arctic Fox II, reporting the vessel was taking on water and the three people aboard planned to abandon ship.
The fisherman who hailed for help said they were wearing survival suits, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
At the time of the mayday call, the water temperature was 14 degrees C with three to four-metre waves.
The wind was 25 knots, gusting to 35.
An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Coast Guard Sector Columbia River and an HC-27J Spartan medium-range surveillance search and rescue aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento in McClellan, California, went to search for the fishermen.
Once they arrived, Coast Guard aircrews immediately found a lifeboat with one survivor inside and hoisted him into the helicopter.
Canadian search and rescue aircrews with The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Victoria joined the search effort near Cape Flattery later Tuesday morning, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
Cape Flattery is the northwesternmost point of the contiguous United States. It is just south of Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, across the Salish Sea.
Between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., the two other people on board the fishing vessel were recovered, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
Crews from the CC-115 Buffalo Aircraft and a CH-149 Cormorant Helicopter from 19 Wing Comox took part in the search.
The Arctic Fox II is registered out of Victoria. It was built in 1947. The boat left Cowichan Bay about a week ago to fish for tuna. Teague Fishing Corp. of Shawnigan Lake, B.C., is listed as the owner of the boat.
The boat was used as a whale hunter ship in 1997’s Free Willy 3: The Rescue, according to Fishing News.