Port of Vancouver investigating whether container ship was going too fast as wave swept over Steveston park

Rogue wave injures woman

The City of Richmond has requested the Coast Guard ask all vessels to slow down as they near Steveston, following an incident last week in which a woman almost drowned from a freak wave at Garry Point Park.

A surge of water – loaded with log booms and beach debris – rolled over the walking path at the park, injuring the woman.

It’s unclear what caused the wave, but a container ship can be seen sailing west on the Fraser River in the background, and witnesses have spoken of how it appeared to be travelling faster than ships normally do in the channel.

The city contacted the Coast Guard to ask for a “slow bell” to be implemented for the remainder of the high tide, spring freshet season.

However, city spokesperson Clay Adams said the Coast Guard only agreed to implement the slow down warning for the remainder of last weekend.

“The city responded quickly to the incident, clearing the pathway to make it safe for users the same day,” Adams said.

“Rogue waves such as this are rare, so our signage in the area focuses on the more common risks associated with swimming and the strong river currents.”

Adams acknowledged the cause of the wave has not been determined, but added that “speed and proximity to shore of a large vessel may have been a major factor.”

A spokesperson for the Port of Vancouver acknowledged that the port is "responsible for ensuring the safety of the waterways within port jurisdiction, which includes this area of Fraser River."

"We recognize the seriousness of this incident and the impacts on those involved," added the spokesperson.

"We have initiated discussions with the Pacific Pilotage and other agencies to determine what factors may have led to this unfortunate event. We regularly review and update the safety practices and procedures we have set in place for vessels to follow, in particular those along the Fraser River, to highlight critical safety information and potential hazards that are unique to river waters and narrow channels."

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