Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ferry Passenger Believes She Saw Couple before Crash, Thinks They Went Overboard

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ferry Passenger Believes She Saw Couple before Crash, Thinks They Went Overboard

Article excerpt

Ferry witness believes couple fell overboard

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VANCOUVER - A passenger from the Queen of the North ferry's final voyage says she might have seen a missing couple on an outside deck just before the ship hit an island off northern British Columbia -- and she told a jury Wednesday she believes they could have fallen overboard.

Gerald Foisy and Shirley Rosette haven't been seen since the ferry collided with Gil Island and sank in the early morning of March 22, 2006. The ship's fourth officer, Karl Lilgert, is on trial for criminal negligence causing their deaths.

Jill Lawrence, who was travelling with her spouse to visit her sick father on Vancouver Island, recalled stepping onto an outside deck on the back of the ship to have a cigarette just before midnight.

She noticed a middle-aged couple leaning against the outer wall of the ferry, standing in a quiet embrace and not talking.

Lawrence said when she returned to her cabin, the couple remained outside. About 15 minutes later, she was jolted in her bed as the ship ran aground.

"I believe (the couple outside) was them, because I never saw those people again," Lawrence, wiping her eyes with a tissue, testified in B.C. Supreme Court.

"I just believe that because of the way the ship was listing, they could have fallen overboard."

Just what exactly happened to Foisy and Rosette has been one of the lingering mysteries of the sinking, and the jury has yet to hear a concrete theory about why they vanished.

Did they make it off the ferry in the nighttime evacuation that followed the collision? If not, why were they the only two passengers who didn't heed the alarms and warnings to abandon ship?

Lawrence acknowledged she did not get a good look at the couple on the ferry's outer deck, and when family members showed her a photo of Foisy and Rosette shortly after the sinking, she said she hadn't seen them.

But Lawrence has seen more photos since. She said the woman she saw outside had a similar build to Rosette, and the couple on the ferry looked to be about the same age.

"I just believe it was them," she said.

For a conviction, the Crown must prove, among many other things, that Foisy and Rosette are dead. …

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