Friday, December 22, 2006

A heartfelt plea from the families of the victims of the Queen of the North sinking

The Vancouver Sun has published a letter from Lana Foisy, the mother of the two girls who lost their father on March 22nd when the Queen of the North sank off of Gil Island. In her letter, Foisy asks for the two crew members on the bridge that night to come forward and explain what happened that night to cause the vessel to go off course and eventually sink in the waters off of Gil Island.

In a bid for closure for her two daughters she explains the pain the family has gone through in the months since the sinking and how they wish to learn more of the events that led to the sinking of the ship.

Gerald Foisy and his partner Shirley Rosette were the only two passengers on the Queen of the North who were not accounted for when the vessel was evacuated and the passengers recovered by the people of Hartley Bay. Their bodies were never recovered.

CKNW examined the letter and the circumstances around the silence over the issue over the last few months. You can listen in to the coverage of the letter by going to the audio vault on Friday, at 7:50 am, the letter was given prominent coverage as part of the Philip Till program on Friday morning.

The Vancouver Sun story is provided below.

Ferry victim's family pleads for answers
They ask two crew members to help them get closure
Wency Leung
Vancouver Sun; With file from CanWest News Service
Friday, December 22, 2006

The mother of two girls who lost their father in the Queen of the North ferry sinking this year is pleading for the ship's crew members to come forward so her daughters can have some closure for Christmas.

In an emotional letter sent to The Vancouver Sun, Lana Foisy said she was making "a plea for help from the two people that were at the helm of the ship that night."

"Please step forward and reveal what happened to cause the Queen of the North to go off course and ultimately meet its demise," she wrote.

In her letter, she recalled watching as Morgan, 13, and Brittni, 16, tried to deal with the loss of their father, Gerald Foisy, one of two passengers lost in the sinking.

"It was excruciatingly painful to watch as my daughters walked into their father's apartment, sat down and started to weep while clutching their dad's pillow off his bed. They knew he would never return to his home or to them," she wrote.

Lana, who lives in Penticton with her daughters, said they have lost the opportunity to share their most important occasions with their father, who is her ex-husband.

"Gerald will not be there when Brittni and Morgan have birthdays, nor will he be there to watch them graduate from high school and university. He also won't be there to walk his daughters down an aisle when they marry or watch his grandchildren grow up," she wrote.

"It is Christmastime and the only present I wish to give my daughters is some form of closure on their father's death."

Gerald Foisy and his partner Shirley Rosette were the only two passengers on the Queen of the North who didn't make it safely to shore after the ship rammed Gil Island and sank in March. Their bodies have not been recovered.

Lana Foisy said her daughters have not yet received any explanation from BC Ferries about why the crash occurred.

And since no death certificates have been issued, the girls have not been able to settle any of their father's assets, Lana said by telephone Thursday.

"It's an issue for all of us right now," she said.

Although BC Ferries sent the girls a cheque as a gift for Christmas, Lana said her daughters have received no compensation. She did not disclose the value of the cheque.

The biggest issue, however, is that the girls deserve an explanation and acknowledgement in the form of an apology, Lana said.

"When I ask my daughters what they would like most to help give them closure on this tragic accident, they tell me 'I just want to know what happened, mom'," Lana wrote.

"Sounds simple, yet [this] is the one thing that I cannot give them. . . . In this situation, I feel completely helpless to ease my children's pain."

BC Ferries is urging the crew members to come forward as well, ferries' spokeswoman Deborah Marshall said by phone late Thursday.

"They haven't cooperated with our internal investigation either," she said, reiterating earlier comments by BC Ferries president and CEO David Hahn.

However, B.C. Ferry Workers Union president Jackie Miller earlier this month disputed Hahn's claims that the two -- now suspended -- have refused to participate in a company investigation.
Miller said the workers gave about eight hours of initial testimony to company insurance lawyers immediately after the sinking and have since answered all questions put to them by the Transportation Safety Board and the RCMP.

She said they also offered to assist at the company investigation, but wanted assurance their information would remain confidential, a request the company rejected.

Marshall said one of the two crew members has not answered any of BC Ferries' questions, while the other has only responded to some of them.

Brittni and Morgan Foisy have filed a lawsuit against B.C. Ferry Services Inc. Lana said that lawsuit is still pending and could not comment on it.

Although Lana and Gerald Foisy had been divorced for about eight years, the two remained friends, and Lana said Gerald was very involved in their daughters' lives.

Lana said Morgan and Brittni are also close to Shirley Rosette's two teenage sons, Brent and Brandon, and the children have helped each other cope with the loss of their parents.
"The kids have been really good support for each other. They talk to each other every two or three weeks," Lana said.

It is a particularly difficult time for the family, as Morgan's 13th birthday was on Tuesday, and Gerald's birthday is Christmas Day.

"The kids have walked through each milestone; Father's Day was the same. You cope with it the best you can," Lana said.

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