This was announced on Tuesday 13 August 2002 the Galiano Volunteer Fire Dept, Galiano, British Columbia lost one of their firefighters, Tony Head, to a commercial fishing accident. This is the report from the Victoria Times Columnist...

Grief washes over Galiano Island Tight community mourns 5 deaths in fishing family

Louise Dickson and Emily Bowers Times Colonist (Victoria)

Thursday, August 15, 2002

Kathy Mabberley, her two children, Amanda, 11, and Wyatt, 9, and cousins Rod Wilson and Tony Head, died Tuesday when the family fishing boat the Cap Rouge II capsized near the mouth of the Fraser River. The family had been on an outing to see tall ships at Steveston.

Ben Mabberley, the captain of the seiner, lost his entire family -- wife Kathy (nee Baines) and his two children -- in the accident. He was rescued along with Charlie Head, whose son Tony died. Rod Wilson is survived by his wife and two young sons.

As tourists cycled , strolled along the winding Galiano roads and anticipated the island's 10th annual wine festival this weekend, residents with heavy hearts made plans on Wednesday for a candelight vigil to honour the dead. They also created a flower-filled shrine at a local cafe and gift store, and set up a donation box at the Daystar Market.

Employee Josli Rockafella explained that in times of tragedy, people on the island pull together but some don't know what to do and the donation box helps. The families don't necessarily need financial help, but people can drop off baked goods or food if they want, she said.

The trip that led to the deaths was going to offer something extra for the Mabberley family because they were on their way to see tall ships on display in the Fraser River, said Lloyd Webb, executive director of the Pacific Salmon Harvesters Association.

"The kids were out on the boat. They rarely go out on the boat apparently. It was a special trip to see the tall ships," Webb said.

Ben Mabberley, a commercial fisherman and logger, is "very well liked in the fleet. A gentleman kind of fisherman," he said.

The 14.7-metre Cap Rouge II, owned by B. Mabberley Booming Ltd., was carrying 3,000 Fraser River-bound sockeye salmon caught off Port Renfrew for the Canadian Fishing Company.

It was on its way to offload the sockeye at a processing plant in the Fraser River. The Cap Rouge II is a seiner, meaning it uses a net with weights to capture fish.

The effect of the tragedy was evident throughout Galiano Island.

A Maple Leaf was lowered to half mast at the Southern Galiano volunteer fire department.

At the Galiano Community School where Amanda and Wyatt were students, teacher Kathy Buttery said officials held a meeting Wednesday morning to figure out how to deal with the tragedy when classes resume in about three weeks. About 55 students attend the school.

"It has been the worst thing ever," said Buttery, who has lived on the Island for 25 years. "It has shocked everybody. It's a huge loss. The little girl was my daughter's best friend.

"It's a small community. We all know each other well . . . These are very old Island families and they were all wonderful people."

Islands Trust trustee Debbie Holmes estimated as many as 200 residents are related to the three families.

At the Mabberley home, a wooden sign with the names of the family members and a carved sketch of the Cap Rouge II was taken down from the edge of the driveway.

While some residents among Galiano's population of about 1,000 acted to quell their sense of helplessness, others still had only anger and lashed out in disgust at visitors from the media. All this while family members of the victims stayed in private.

Colette Lagace, the Island's home care and first call nurse said a grief counsellor is on the Galiano. She has lived on Galiano for nearly 10 years and called residents hearty and resilient.

"The people who are here are courageous," she said.

In the weeks and months ahead, Lagace -- the only nurse on the Island -- said she will focus on long-term healing.

Johanna New Moon said she knew everybody on the island by their first name.

"The basic thing about the tragedy is that these people are all island bedrock families. They're the foundation families of the Island. The Wilsons, the Baines and the Heads have been here at least two generations.

"Kathy was a really good island community person. That's why the community is in such shock and because these families totally give to their community in time and energy."

New Moon is also a friend of Rod Wilson's mother Mary. She said Rod was the oldest boy in a family of six children.

"I can't believe how broken her heart must be with the loss of her son," said New Moon.

Krista Casey, a friend of Rod's wife Joanne, described him as a really gentle spirit.

"He was a really good father to his two boys and a great husband," said Casey.

The Galiano resident had also grown up with Tony Head, but said she hadn't really known him since he moved to Saltspring Island.

Casey said she talked to Rod's mother Tuesday morning and the family was still deeply in shock. She had also spoken to Tony Head's mother, who was tremendously upset.

"Galiano is like a big family that lives together in one house. We argue. We have differences of opinion. We have love-hate relationships just like any family. But you realize with a tragedy like this, just how much we love each other. It affects all of us and we have all cried about it."

The reaction of one fisherman, who was sitting outside The Corner Store, was typical.

"We lost five people on this island, but it's too disrespectful to talk about it," said the man, who did not want his name published. "A guy lost his whole family and he's a hell of a guy. He's a really good guy, a real mover and shaker. I don't know what to say to him. Whatever I say wouldn't cover it. It's a huge tragedy. It has destroyed this community."

Today, a candlelight vigil will be held at Montague Park at 7 p.m. The community has asked the media to stay away to respect its privacy.

© Copyright 2002 Times Colonist (Victoria)