Two Taiwanese sailors rescued after wave hits freighter

  • Jan. 11, 2008 12:00 p.m.

By Heather Ramsay-Two injured crew members rescued from a Taiwanese freighter touched down at the airport in Sandspit on Wednesday (Jan. 9) before making their way to hospital in Vancouver. The freighter was struck by a large wave as it travelled five miles off the southwest tip of the Queen Charlotte Islands and several crew members were injured, said Captain Cheryl Condly, public affairs officer from 19 Wing Comox, the air force base where four search and rescue technicians involved in the mission are stationed. Major Mitch Leeanders, a Victoria-based officer in charge of Joint Rescue Coordination, said the rescue call came in around noon on Wednesday. With the help of BC Ambulance personnel, the team determined that at least one crew member needed to be airlifted off the 600-foot vessel. The freighter ship, called the Grand Glory, was on its way to Asia. A Cormorant helicopter and Buffalo aircraft were dispatched to the scene. The Buffalo flew top cover, high above the freighter, and acted as a communications platform for the rescue. Two search and rescue technicians were then lowered onto the ship and assessed the injuries of five crew members. “We were battling gale force winds, limited visibility and large swells when we hoisted to the deck,” said Master Cpl. Billy Ternes, one of the search and rescue technicians. Two were considered to have serious but non-life-threatening conditions and were hoisted into the helicopter. According to Capt. Condly, a 50-year-old male had leg and back injuries and a 40-year-old male had hit his tailbone very hard and was having difficulty moving. She said only one crew member aboard the vessel spoke English, but reports from the scene indicated that the men had fallen a distance of three metres after a large wave broke over the ship. The helicopter then flew to Sandspit airport, where the patients were transferred to the Buffalo and taken to Vancouver, where they were once again transferred and then taken to Vancouver General Hospital by ambulance.