Tour boat suddenly saves 8
Eight people are alive because she and her husband were there to pull them out of the cold waters off the British Columbia coast when a whale-watching boat, with 27 people on board, capsized.
The Campbells in their water taxi were the second boat on the scene when the MV Leviathan II sank after a wave toppled the tourist vessel near Tofino on Sunday.
Five people died, 21 were rescued and one person remains missing.
Michelle Campbell still gets emotional when thinking about one of the women they eventually pulled onto their boat. She was struggling to stay alive.
“When I first looked at her eyes, they were open, she was looking up at me,” Campbell told CNN this week. “She went under ’cause I couldn’t grab her.” Diesel fuel in the water made her slippery.
The woman surfaced — but went under again.
The image still haunts her.
“You saved her,” Francis Campbell said, giving his wife a reassuring hug. “She’s here because of you.”
Wave flips the boat
Those who died were all British nationals, according to the British Columbia Coroners Service. They’ve been identified as Katie Taylor, 29, Jack Slater, 76, Nigel Francis Hooker, 63, David Wyndham Thomas, 50, and his son, Stephen David Thomas, 18.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada said a wave flipped the ship when most of the passengers and crew were on the top deck, raising the center of gravity and making it easier to capsize.
The Leviathan II was a 65-foot cruiser. It had three viewing decks — one upper and one lower and one in the back of the boat. It seated 46 passengers comfortably.
Owner Jamie Bray told reporters this week that the Leviathan II had run the same trip for two decades, twice a day.
“This vessel’s operated for 20 years with an absolutely perfect safety record and this is something just totally out of the blue,” Bray said.
Thankful, but troubled
For Michelle Campbell, Sunday’s memories will be hard to shake. They leave her with mixed emotions.
“I thank God that these people can go home to their family,” she said. “I don’t know if they have kids, they have grand kids, (but) I know coming home to my family is really really good.”
Still, there are the haunting images of those who didn’t make it. The bodies of those they couldn’t get to in time.
“I can see them in the water,” she said. “I can see just things you should never have to see.”