Passengers returning to Grand Manan on the late ferry on Thursday night, December 20, were met with an ominous spectacle. A row of brilliant lights spread across the water, lighting the low clouds with a sickly glow. A red light circling above them indicated the presence of a search plane. A man had fallen overboard from one of the lobster boats that evening.
Grand Manan Fishermen's Association Lobster Sector Chair Laurence Cook confirms that the accident occurred at about 5 p.m., roughly 11 miles from the island. "There were vessels in the immediate vicinity, and the search started immediately," he says. "The boat had an experienced captain and was well-equipped with lights and so forth." The 36‑year‑old man was originally from Ontario and had moved to the area and been fishing for about five years. Cook says that 17 boats searched through the night until 2 a.m., and that while it was getting windy by then, "the weather was fine at the time of the accident."
Jeri Grychowski, a spokesperson for the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax, says they received a call around 5:45 p.m. The missing man was not wearing a personal flotation device. She says a Cormorant helicopter and a Hercules aircraft were dispatched from Canadian Forces Base Greenwood, N.S. A Coast Guard vessel was also on the scene. The search was reduced Friday morning, and the case was subsequently turned over to the RCMP.
Cook says that the man's family has been notified but that he is not releasing the names of the victim, the captain or the boat at this time.
On December 21 the RCMP issued a statement that the search had come to an end and that they are now investigating the incident as a missing‑person case. The Transportation Safety Board will also investigate the work‑related incident.