250: The Sinking of the Queen of the North

Episode 250: At 8:00 PM on the evening of March 21, 2006, the B.C. Ferries-operated motor vessel Queen of the North departed Prince Rupert, British Columbia. The long-haul passenger and vehicle ferry, making the 18-hour overnight trip to *Port Hardy* on the Northern end of Vancouver Island, was carrying 22 vehicles, 101 people, 59 passengers and 42 crew. Many passengers were asleep when, at 12:21 A.M., at 17.5 knots, the ferry struck an underwater ledge on the northeast side of Gil Island in Wright Sound. The damage to the hull was catastrophic; it tore holes in the starboard side and took out the propellers. The ferry lost propulsion and began drifting and taking on water. Upon realizing the ferry was lost, the crew and passengers loaded into lifeboats to take them safely away from the foundering vessel, which sank in 430 m of water only 80 Minutes later. Sadly, two of the passengers, Shirley Rosette and Gerald Foisy, both of 100 Mile House, British Columbia, were unaccounted for and, as they’ve never been found, they have since been declared dead.

Investigations by B.C. Ferries and the Canadian Transportation Safety Board determined that the sinking was due to human error on the part of the ferry’s navigational crew, and the RCMP undertook a criminal investigation. Helmswomen Karen Briker was fired, as was Captain Colin Henthorne, rightfully in his cabin at the time.

But the blame for the incident fell squarely on the shoulders of another man, the ship’s fourth officer. On March 16, 2010, the Crown charged *Karl-Heinz Arthur Lilgert* with two counts of criminal negligence, causing death. Lilgert was subsequently convicted of both charges and sentenced to four years in prison.

Sources:

Connecting the Coast | BC Ferries

Marine Investigation Report M92W1057 – Transportation Safety Board of Canada

Marine Investigation Report M06W0052 – Transportation Safety Board of Canada

Skidegate Band Council

Home | City of Prince Rupert

Divisional Inquiry | BC Ferries – British Columbia Ferry Services Inc.

2013 BCSC 1329 (CanLII) | R. v. Lilgert | CanLII

Navigator was either fighting or having sex with former lover on bridge of B.C. ferry the night it sank, Crown tells court | National Post

Queen of the North, the Captain’s story – North Island Gazette

The Queen of the North Disaster by Colin Henthorne – Ebook | Scribd

Family asked to prove loved ones died at ferry sinking trial | CTV News

Family of two victims testify at B.C. ferry sinking trial | CBC News

Ferry passenger believes she saw couple before crash, thinks they went overboard | Globalnews.ca

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