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Second victim survives boathouse tragedy

Secret Cove
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The second man found on a boat in Secret Cove after a suspected carbon monoxide poisoning incident has been released from Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) and is expected to make a full recovery, said Duke Andrash, owner of Duke’s Marina.

“Finally we have some great news,” Andrash told Coast Reporter Jan. 3.

Andrash said the survivor, who requested anonymity, had phoned him the previous night and said he was doing well.

“I could not believe he was released from hospital. He was back at home, and his dog was with him,” Andrash said. “Everyone, including his mother, was told that he wasn’t expected to survive, and if he did, he would be severely brain damaged. The doctors at VGH were astounded by his apparent full recovery. He spent an extended period of time in a hyperbaric chamber which obviously countered the effects of the CO [carbon monoxide] poisoning.”

Andrash discovered the two West Vancouver men unresponsive in their boat on Dec. 30 and called emergency responders. Rodrick Boggs, 58, was declared dead at the scene and his partner was transported to St. Mary’s Hospital in Sechelt and then Vancouver General, still unconscious.

Andrash said he found Boggs’ partner below deck. “I found Mr. Boggs on top where the steering station is.” When Andrash found the men, “there was a dog aboard that wasn’t doing well either.”

The dog was taken to a veterinarian in Sechelt and eventually recovered, but was blinded by the CO exposure and is not expected to regain sight, Andrash said.

At the time of the incident, the boat was moored in a small boathouse at the marina. The engine was running and the exhaust fumes apparently overcame the two men, the BC Coroners Service said.

The coroners office continues to investigate.

Andrash said the incident brings home the insidious nature of CO and the need for all boaters to take precautions.

“Contrary to some press reports, the two men were not doing repairs on their boat,” Andrash said. “They had just driven up to the marina from the Langdale ferry terminal, loaded their supplies and were preparing to depart, in order to spend New Year’s festivities at their property on a nearby island.”

The men were aboard their 33-foot (10-metre) Sea Ray Sundancer with the twin gasoline engines warming up and the boathouse curtain raised in preparation for departure, he said.

“Like most people would, the men assumed this was adequate ventilation, and indeed, they had done the same thing many times before, without incident.”

Because it was winter, however, the canvas covering the cockpit was left in place, with only the access flap and the transom door open, he said.

“The exhaust, bubbling under the swim step, only needed the gentlest breeze to silently sneak aboard and fill the interior with deadly poison. This can happen even on boats out in the open, at anchor, if their engine or generator is running and the air movement is just right.”

Andrash, a retired 30-year veteran of the Vancouver Police Department who for a time headed the department’s Marine Squad, said every enclosed boat equipped with a potential source of CO should have at least one CO detector aboard.


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