Boater killed in collision with Quebec ferry

A  23-year-old man died when the pleasure craft he was aboard struck a cable ferry in the middle of a Quebec river and he was catapulted overboard.

The crash happened Aug. 1 on the Riviere des Prairies near Laval. The 17-foot recreational boat struck the ferry Paule II, which crosses the Riviere des Prairies between the west end of Laval and the island of Île-Bizard. 

Witnesses reported that the recreational vessel was traveling at a considerable speed when it struck the ferry. The victim, Giordano Castronovo, was thrown into the air across the entire deck of the ferry before landing in the water. Three other occupants of the vessel were treated for injuries after being thrown overboard. 

The 48-foot Paule II is connected to an aerial cable and uses the prevailing current, typically 4.5 knots, to move across the river by varying the angle of the hull against the flow of water. For increased thrust, the crew can hydraulically lower a keel in the water.

Francois Dumont, regional senior investigator for the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB), said there were nine people aboard the pleasure craft, a fiberglass Glastron open-deck boat fitted with a 90-hp outboard engine.

The ferry’s captain sounded his horn to warn the approaching recreational vessel of his presence but the boat continued on, slamming into the side of the ferry.

Dumont said that when the pleasure craft collided with the ferry, four people on board were thrown against and over one of the extremities of the ferry. They then fell into the water.

“Of the four persons who were thrown overboard, three swam ashore on their own,” Dumont said. “One of them sank and his body was retrieved four days later on the shoreline by the local police. The TSB will request the report of autopsy in order to find out the exact cause of death.”

The five people who remained in the pleasure craft sustained various injuries and stayed on board, Dumont said. With the boat caught against the ferry’s loading ramp mechanism, they had to wait for the ferry to dock before they could exit their vessel.

The TSB is still investigating the cause of the incident and the contributing factors. Dumont said the agency is determining the exact speed at which both the pleasure craft and cable ferry were traveling at that time. There are no speed restrictions in the area, he said. 

Paule II is owned by Traverse Laval-Ile Bizard Inc. of Laval. Calls and email messages to the company by Professional Mariner were not answered.

By Professional Mariner Staff