School board considers legal action against BC Ferries

  • Dec. 18, 2009 3:00 p.m.

The school board has directed its administrators to see if it can sue BC Ferries for last month’s terrifying attempted crossing of Hecate Strait. Trustees discussed the ferry trip when they met Tuesday night (Dec. 15). The Queen Charlotte Secondary School girls’ volleyball team, made up of 10 students, one teacher and one volunteer coach, was on board the Northern Adventure when it sailed into hurricane-force winds Nov. 23. They were on their way back from a tournament in Hazelton. The ferry was caught for several hours in high waves which terrified passengers, injured two crew members and left the ship in disarray. School board chair Wayne Wilson said trustees are ultimately responsible for the safety of students on school trips, and he isn’t satisfied with how BC Ferries handled the voyage. “If things had been any different we would be dealing with a terrible situation,” he said. “I just don’t think it’s right that one person can make a decision like that and endanger so many lives.” Mr. Wilson directed superintendent Angus Wilson and secretary-treasurer Ken Campbell to talk to the district’s lawyer and see if it is possible and reasonable to sue BC Ferries for what happened, keeping in mind that the district does not want to spend money needlessly. Trustees also voted to send a “strongly-worded” letter to BC Ferries, asking to be paid back for the volleyball team’s accommodation and food expenses and complaining about the lack of communication. Several parents called BC Ferries to see what was going on after they noticed the vessel tracking website showed the Northern Adventure was stuck in the middle of Hecate Strait and moving at zero knots, trustees said. Their calls were either not answered, or the person at the other end had no information.