Customer assaults ferry workers

A man who missed his sailing from Nanaimo assaulted two ferry employees on the weekend.

A customer who missed his sailing allegedly assaulted two ferry employees on the weekend.

The incident happened in front of the toll booths at B.C. Ferries’ Departure Bay Terminal Saturday when a 26-year-old man became irate after the ticket agent told him he was too late to board the 3 p.m. sailing to Horseshoe Bay and would have to wait for the next sailing.

B.C. Ferries requires all passengers to arrive at the terminal at least 10 minutes before each sailing.

The man, a passenger in a car with two other men, got out of the vehicle and started verbally berating the ticket agent.

Deborah Marshall, B.C. Ferries spokeswoman, said the suspect allegedly punched the terminal manager in the head when he was called in to speak with him. An equipment operator was kicked as well.

Terminal staff called police who pepper-sprayed and arrested the suspect.

Officers determined alcohol was a contributing factor and the man was held in cells at Nanaimo RCMP detachment until he sobered up.

He was released on a promise to appear in Nanaimo provincial court Feb. 14.

Marshall said neither employee was seriously injured by the attack.

The corporation is considering permanently banning the man from sailing on B.C. Ferries, but no decision on that or other possible penalties has been made.

“Our employees are given violence prevention training and they can expect to go to work and not be assaulted like anyone else,” Marshall said.

Violence against B.C. Ferries staff is rare.

“Ninety-nine point nine per cent of people are fine,” she said. “Let’s keep it in perspective. Last year 20 million passengers sailed with us.”