BEACH POINT, P.E.I. — Islanders are coming together to support the family of one of the men killed in a lobster boat collision off Beach Point on Saturday.
Justin MacKay, 20-year-old Montague resident, has been identified as one of the victims, while RCMP confirmed on Monday the other victim was a 59-year-old man.
RCMP could not say where the 59-year-old was a resident of.
A GoFundMe campaign named “Tammy Crossman and family” had raised more than $3,400 by Monday evening to help with funeral costs for MacKay, who graduated from Montague Regional High School (MRHS) last year.
A funeral will be held for MacKay at Ferguson Logan Montague Funeral Home chapel on Thursday, with an interment to follow in the Murray River Cemetery.
Montague Mayor Richard Collins shared his condolences on Monday to the families of both victims and described the event as a tragedy.
“My heart goes out to the families of the two deceased and our thoughts and prayers are with them,” said Collins.
RCMP Const. Tara McBride said one boat was on its way back to shore and smashed into another boat that was buoyed about nine kilometres off the coast between 10:30 and 11 a.m. Saturday.
She said there were eight crew members between the two boats, including the two victims.
Both of the deceased were on the same boat, she said.
The collision prompted a large emergency response on Saturday with officials from Kings District RCMP, Island EMS, Murray Harbour Fire Department, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canadian Coast Guard, Transport Canada, Occupational Health and Safety, the Coroner’s Office and Victim Services all on the scene.
There are still a number of unanswered questions regarding the collision.
The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada, an independent agency that investigates accidents that occur in federally regulated modes of transport, is now currently in the “field phase” of an investigation.
Two TSB investigators were gathering information and conducting witness interviews on Monday.
Pierre Murray, the TSB’s manager of regional operations in the Atlantic region, said this was the first time in about 25 years that he could recall a collision between two smaller boats resulting in a loss of life.
“Often times, it’s that they bump each other or do some damage,” said Murray. “To have a death like that, it’s different, it’s not something I’ve seen before.”
With only one of the boats returning to shore on the weekend, Murray said he was unsure whether the second boat would have to be recovered.
“It all depends on what we can uncover throughout the investigation,” he said. “Recovery is a long process, it’s not something easily done. We have to figure out first, do we need (the boat) to figure out what’s going on.”
Once TSB investigators gather all the information they can on site, they will decide whether to conduct a full investigation. The third phase of a TSB investigation ends with a final report being released to the public.
Transport Canada said it is also inspecting the incident for compliance with applicable laws and stated it “will not hesitate to take appropriate actions should any safety or regulatory deficiencies be identified during the course of the inspection.”
RCMP was still gathering details on Monday to determine exactly what happened.
“RCMP extend sincere condolences to the families of the deceased and those still coping with the collision and thank all first responders, officials and many fellow fishers and community members that assisted at the scene,” said an RCMP statement.
Counsellors were available at Montague Regional High School on Monday to support staff and students.
With students now writing exams, a statement on the school’s website said any students affected by the tragedy who felt they were unable to write exams could re-schedule.
“Our sympathies are with the friends and families of the victims of the boating accident this weekend,” said the statement.