Fishing boat on automatic pilot before colliding with boat in fatal crash: report
Two men died after two lobster boats collided about nine kilometres from Beach Point, P.E.I. on June 9, 2018. (Google Maps)
BEACH POINT, P.E.I. -- A fishing boat that rammed into another vessel -- landing on top of its deck and killing two people -- was on autopilot, according to the Transportation Safety Board.
The board says both the Forever Chasin' Tail and the Joel '98 left Beach Point, P.E.I., to haul lobster traps on June 9.
Weather conditions were good at the time with low winds, clear skies and unlimited visibility, the board's report said.
The three crew aboard Forever Chasin' Tail set their traps and headed home. The master "set the automatic pilot to steer a westerly course toward the entrance to Beach Point harbour," the report said.
Directly in their path: The five-person crew on the Joel '98, who continued to haul and reset lobster traps.
The report said the Joel '98 crew had just recovered the marker buoy on their next set of lobster traps and were focused on the starboard side when crew saw the Forever Chasin' Tail heading directly toward their port side.
"At about the same time, the crew on board the Forever Chasin' Tail saw the Joel '98 directly in front of them. With no time for either vessel to manoeuvre, the Forever Chasin' Tail collided with the Joel '98," the report states.
The Forever Chasin' Tail came to rest on the deck of the Joel '98. As the stern began to sink, two crew members and one passenger climbed onto the other vessel.
"The remaining crew member and passenger from the Joel '98 were found floating at the surface on the port side of the Forever Chasin' Tail as it floated free of the sinking vessel," it said.
The crew member was pulled on board the Forever Chasin' Tail, while the passenger was taken on board another fishing vessel. Both were taken to Beach Point, where they were pronounced dead by first responders.
Previous media reports had identified the victims as Justin MacKay, 20, and 59-year-old Chris Melanson.
The board said the Joel '98 remained partly submerged for several hours and later sank while under tow by another fishing vessel.