Gabriola ferry back on schedule

NANAIMO – Ferry to Gabriola Island running as RCMP divers investigate accident scene, recover vehicle.

The B.C. Ferry M.V. Quinsam is back on schedule carrying vehicles and passengers between downtown Nanaimo and Descanso Bay following a bizarre incident early Wednesday when a car was driven through a safety barrier, launched off the Descanso Bay ferry terminal loading ramp and continued across the M.V. Quinsam’s deck before crashing and sinking.

The incident halted ferry service for most of the day as coast guard, RCMP and search and rescue units combed the waters and shoreline looking for the car and any occupants.

The car was discovered at a depth of about 37 metres about 60 metres off the stern of the Quinsam.

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.”

A ferry terminal employee who witnessed the crash said the car was going at a high rate of speed.

She said RCMP divers would be on scene Thursday starting at 8:30 a.m. to search for the vehicle and its driver.

Armstrong had no information about the type of car or what might have precipitated the crash.

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