Man presumed drowned, woman found ‘clinging to life’ in Nanaimo harbour


A 59-year-old man is missing and presumed drowned and a woman is stable in hospital after she was found in the water near a vessel off the coast of Nanaimo Monday night, according to RCMP.

Authorities received a 911 call reporting a woman in the water near a boat between Newcastle and Protection islands at around 8:40 p.m., said Nanaimo RCMP spokesman Const. Gary O’Brien.

The initial report indicated that people heard yelling and screaming involving a man and a woman for 45 minutes.

RCMP used a port authority vessel to get to the woman, who was found clinging to the rope tied to an anchored sailboat in the water and was hypothermic and severely intoxicated, RCMP said.

“Her head was just above the water,” O’Brien told CHEK News.

The 58-year-old woman was rushed to hospital and remained there Tuesday and has since stabilized and is expected to survive.

First responders launched a wide-scale search for the man, working on the assumption that he was in the water, using two marine vessels and a dive team. Police also checked in at his workplace and pinged his cell phone with no luck, said O’Brien.

Police said search and rescue teams are also conducting an extensive search of the shore and adjacent area.

The search was of particular interest to those on nearby Protection Island where the initial call was made

“We do know somebody on the island put in a mayday call cause they heard somebody yelling in the water,” said Debra Weikum, a Protection Island resident.

An armed forces helicopter and a Coast Guard hovercraft were part of the search last night.

Their noise kept many Protection Island residents and some in Nanaimo awake.

“I mainly just heard the helicopter. I seem to sort of remember hearing it around 10:30 and I know I heard it until at least 12:30 at which point I think I fell asleep so I don’t know if it went beyond that or not,” said Weikum.

It is believed the man and the woman lived aboard the sailboat she was found near. Police say there’s nothing indicating criminality in the matter.

The man, who is presumed drowned, was last seen wearing a blue and black shirt, blue jeans and either running shoes or flip-flops.

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call Nanaimo police at 250-754-2345 and quote file number 2022-12274.

Last month another incident claimed the life of a Nanaimo man when he was found in an overturned kayak.

Jeff LawrenceJeff Lawrence

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