UPDATED: RCMP dive team scouring St. Anns Bay for car that plunged off ferry

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Fire, police and paramedics responded to the scene of an accident on the Englishtown Ferry Torquil MacLean Monday night.

ENGLISHTOWN – An RCMP dive team is searching the icy waters of St. Anns Bay looking for a car that plunged off the Englishtown ferry into the bay on Monday evening.

Sgt. Craig Yorke said the divers, who started the search shortly before 11 a.m., are looking for a car that drove off the end of the Torquil MacLean Monday at about 8:45 p.m.

The vehicle landed in the water approximately 20 to 30 meters from shore and was last seen approximately 200 meters from where it entered the water.

The RCMP don’t yet know how many people are in the car, nor are they speculating about why it drove across the deck of the ferry and over the raised end ramp and plunged into the bay.

Divers have been concentrating the search on an area several hundred metres down from the ferry terminus on the north side of St. Anns Bay where an oil slick has been spotted. Strong currents are adding to the difficulty of the search.

RCMP diver Darren Sampson said they plan to set up a grid pattern on the bottom of the bay.

“If we see it, we’ll mark it off and go from there,” he said.

Sampson said the water was cold and the current was strong. He said visibility underwater is “not great.”

The divers have also launched a Zodiac to assist in the search.   

Local fishermen joined in the effort scouring the bay Monday night but any chance of finding the one or more people in the vehicle was called off until this morning due to deteriorating visibility.

Yorke said at this point it’s a recovery operation rather than a rescue mission because it has been 14 hours since the accident happened. A shoreline search hasn’t turned up anything.

Emergency Health Services, the Baddeck and Englishtown fire departments along with the North Shore District Fire Department are assisting RCMP with the investigation.

Transportation Minister Maurice Smith said his department has launched its own investigation into the accident.

“Along with the RCMP, we are following through with our own standard protocols that includes an internal investigation on what happened,” he said in a release.

An internal investigation includes interviews with crew members working at the time and an inspection of the ferry. The Torquil MacLean, one of the province’s busiest ferries, went into service in 2008.

The ferry remains out of service until further notice, meaning motorists looking to access the Cabot Trail will have to add a half-hour to their trip by using the road that hugs the coastline around St. Anns harbour.

Travellers can receive up-to-date information about the ferry by dialing 511 or checking the flashing lights at Barrachois, South Haven and Englishtown that notify motorists when the ferry is not in operation.

Organizations: RCMP, Health Services, North Shore District Fire Department

Geographic location: ENGLISHTOWN, Anns Bay, South Haven

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