Strabane nurse helped survivors of Canada boat tragedy

A woman pays her condolences from the First St dock in Tofino to passengers who died in the capsize
A woman pays her condolences from the First St dock in Tofino to passengers who died in the capsize

A nurse from Northern Ireland was among those who assisted the survivors of a tragic sinking in Canada, it has emerged.

Five UK nationals died when the whale-watching boat Leviathan II sank off the coast of British Colombia in Canada on Sunday.

They were Katie Taylor, 29, David Thomas, 50, his son Stephen, 18, Nigel Hooker, 63, and Jack Slater, 76.

A 27-year-old man from Sydney is still missing.

The BBC named the nurse as Sheila Simpson, who originally hails from near Strabane, Co Tyrone.

She told the broadcaster: “God put me there on the dock, and thank God for my training in Omagh and in the Royal [Victoria Hospital] in Belfast.

“I just stepped into the place where I could be of assistance.

“The survivors who could walk up off the deck were shell-shocked and I looked them in the eye and I put my hand to their back and I said ‘you are alive, you have survived’.”

None of those who died was wearing a life jacket, although plenty were available, investigators have said.

The boat, run by local tour firm Jamie’s Whaling Station, got into difficulty eight miles (13km) away from the small town of Tofino, around 150 miles (240km) west of Vancouver.