Body recovered from Descanso Bay

NANAIMO – RCMP dive team recovers woman's body from vehicle found in Descanso Bay.

Gabriola RCMP confirmed Thursday afternoon they recovered the body of a woman from the vehicle that drove through the B.C. Ferry terminal and off the deck of the ferry M.V. Quinsam Wednesday morning.

The incident shut down ferry service between Gabriola and Naniamo for most of Wednesday as coast guard, RCMP and search and rescue units combed the waters and shoreline looking for the car and any occupants.

The car, which was driven through a safety barrier at high speed, launched off the Descanso Bay ferry terminal loading ramp and continued across the M.V. Quinsam’s deck before crashing and sinking, was discovered at a depth of about 37 metres about 60 metres off the stern of the Quinsam Wednesday afternoon.

B.C. Ferries resumed sailings between Nanaimo and Gabriola at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, but said in a press release sailings could be interrupted Thursday due dive and recovery operations in Descanso Bay.

RCMP divers were back on scene at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

Sgt. Sheryl Armstrong, Nanaimo RCMP spokeswoman, said police had reviewed security camera footage of the vehicle as it drove through the terminal. A person was seen at the wheel of the vehicle in the video footage.

“We can’t confirm that there were passengers,” Armstrong said. “We know for sure that there was one person involved.”

The RCMP Dive Team, with help from the RCMP West Coast Marine patrol vessel Higgett and the Canada Border Services Agency entered the vehicle at a depth of 37 metres and recovered the body at about 1 p.m. Thursday.

Experts on the scene were attempting to recover the vehicle by floating it to the surface and then onto land with air sacks.

The female victim, 32, was from Gabriola.

Next of kin have been advised and have requested RCMP withhold her name.  This investigation has been turned over to the coroner’s office.