HALIFAX: A man from Port Hood who survived the fatal capsizing of a fishing boat last year was rewarded for his heroism.
On December 4, Elijah Watts of Port Hood was awarded the Nova Scotia Medal of Bravery for his courageous actions following a tragic fishing accident.
On May 12, 2018 at around 6 a.m., Watts was fishing with his father Captain Hugh Watts and fisherman Glen MacDonald in the Ocean II off Colindale when their vessel capsized and the occupants were thrown overboard. Watts pulled his father and MacDonald ashore, but both men perished in the accident.
The rough condition of the sea and the chaos of the boat capsizing, along with him being alone, were recognized in rewarding the bravery of Elijah Watts’ actions. He was just 18 years old at the time.
“I know today brings back sad memories for Elijah and for the families of Hugh Watts and Glen MacDonald,” said Inverness MLA Allan MacMaster. “But what Elijah did for them was nothing short of amazing. It was the last act of love and courage that was given to them.”
Cpt. Marc Greatti, public affairs officer with the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, confirmed at the time that they received the call that the lobster fishing vessel capsized in Sutherland’s Cove with three occupants onboard. Cpt. Greattic noted that a Cormorant helicopter was dispatched to the scene, as well as about a dozen Canadian Coast Guard regular and auxiliary vessels. By the time the helicopter reached the area, Cpt. Greatti added that emergency responders – including the local RCMP, EHS and volunteer fire fighters – had the occupants of the vessel ashore and the Cormorant returned to its base.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada and Nova Scotia’s Department of Labour and Advanced Education investigated the incident.
Each year the medal recognizes people who have risked their lives to help another person, and awards those who have demonstrated acts of bravery. This is the twelfth year individuals who have risked their own lives to help others have been recognized. Since 2008, 40 brave Nova Scotians have received the medal of bravery award.
The other recipient was Sophia LeBlanc of Amherst, the youngest ever winner of the bravery medal.
“People like Elijah and Sophia make our communities stronger and inspire us all,” said Premier Stephen McNeil. “On behalf of all Nova Scotians, I want to thank and recognize them for their bravery.”
For more information on medal recipients, or to find out how to nominate a hero, visit: https://novascotia.ca/bravery/.