A man who jumped off a BC Ferry in Active Pass and swam to shore on Galiano Island the night of Nov. 4 has been arrested after breaking into a home.
Outer Gulf Islands RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Rod Pick stated in a media release that a naked man, soaking wet, entered a house on Galiano Island and started to throw furniture around, causing damage. A woman in the home left safely and went to a neighbour’s house to call for help.
Pick reported that the witness said the man was incoherent and did not respond to her.
RCMP from the Gulf Island detachment, as well as Sidney officer and a police dog unit went to the area. Pick stated they discovered the man had left the house and walked to a nearby resort, breaking into one of the cabins. The man was taken into custody.
Pick said police had earlier received a call from the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria to assist in the possible rescue of a man who had jumped off the Coastal Celebration ferry en route to Swartz Bay from Tswwassen.
Deborah Marshall, executive director of public affairs for BC Ferries said crew and passengers on the Coastal Celebration witnessed a man deploy the life raft and then jump into the water at around 9:30 p.m. A crew member threw a life ring overboard to mark the spot, she said. Both that vessel and the Spirit of British Columbia launched rescue boats to search for the man. Police and the coast guard were called immediately.
“Our crews are highly trained and perform drills all the time,” Marshall said. “This was at night and it put our crew members at risk.”
Forty-five minutes into their search, Marshall said BC Ferries was called by police, notifying them they had arrested a man on Galiano Island, who resembled the description of the person who jumped overboard.
Search and rescue crews with the Canadian military and Coast Guard were also called to assist in the search.
The man arrested on Galiano Island is believed to be the same man who jumped from the ferry. He was sent to Royal Jubille Hospital for an assessment.
The man, according to police, is facing charges of mischief, breaking and entering and more. The RCMP also stated BC Ferries is also considering charges against the man, in relation to the tampering with life-saving equipment.
Marshall said the life raft was large, with a 100-person capacity. It was recovered Thursday after it was found at Mayne Island. She said it would be inspected for damage, as it is not designed to be deployed while a vessel is traveling at 20 knots — which was the speed of the Coastal Celebration at the time of the incident.
There were 333 people on board both BC Ferries’ vessels Wednesday night. Marshall said BC Ferries has more than 180,000 sailings each year and thankfully such incidents are rare. Approximately 10 years ago, someone made a similar jump from a ferry, she said, and swam to Mayne Island. Marshall said their vessels have gates, railings and fencing, however it’s difficult to prevent someone who is determined from jumping.
— with files from the Outer Gulf Islands RCMP