BAYFIELD: Two men from Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation have died while a women was rescued and transported to hospital after the oyster boat they were in capsized near Seagrass Lane in Bayfield Monday afternoon.
Jennifer Clarke, public information officer with the RCMP, said Antigonish District RCMP responded to a 911 call at 3 p.m. from a frantic woman indicating a boat had capsized and there were people in the water.
Upon arrival at the scene, police spoke with the woman who was one of three people on the vessel, which was a 16-foot open boat. Suffering the effects of water exposure, she was transported to hospital by EHS.
A witness found a man who was about 10-feet from shore and he was pulled ashore. He was alive at the time but was unresponsive, and despite multiple attempts to revive him, he died in hospital last night.
A third person was located in the water near the capsized vessel, about 200 meters from shore by an RCMP helicopter. The body was retrieved by EHS and firefighters, and was unresponsive – he was later pronounced deceased in the hospital.
The three individuals were employed by the Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation for oyster fishing, and all three individuals were wearing personal flotation devices.
In a Facebook post late Monday evening, officials with the Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation shed some light on the tragedy and confirmed the deaths of two of their community members.
“Our community mourns the loss of two young men today…when the oyster boat they were working on capsized,” the post stated. “Prayers to their family and friends, and thank you to hospital staff, emergency and helicopter crews for their efforts, and to clergy at the hospital for the kind and compassionate support.”
The two individuals were identified by the band as Ozzy Clair, 28, and Niko Clair, 29.
A crisis team from Eskasoni First Nation will be stationed at the Paqtnkek Heath Centre for the next three days to help community members deal with this fishing tragedy.
The health director in the community has also reached out to the mental wellness team with the Union of Nova Scotia Indians (UNSI) and will have a team tomorrow to assist with anyone who needs it.
The RCMP investigation into the circumstances of this incident is ongoing. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is deploying a team of investigators following the fatal capsizing and will gather information and assess the incident.