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A Toronto couple among tourists on a boat trip in the Dominican Republic that capsized

A Toronto couple is speaking out about their “extremely dangerous” experience aboard a sinking tour boat in the Dominican Republic last week.

Brock MacKenzie and his partner, Kerri Wolanski, were enjoying a tour of the Haitises National Park caves on Monday, April 15, when they first noticed water seeping onto their boat.

MacKenzie said he initially did not understand what was happening, but soon realized the severity of the situation as the boat was about 25 minutes offshore at the time.

“I looked at Wolanski and thought, ‘How do you get wet?’ Like I couldn’t figure out where the water was coming from,” MacKenzie said in an interview with CTV News Toronto. “When I looked around I saw that the boat was sinking.”

MacKenzie said there were about 30 other people aboard the boat at the time, including at least one child and several seniors.

He said most passengers were not wearing life jackets and crew members were “handing out rum” as the boat took on water.

“The craziest part of the whole trip wasn’t the fact that the boat was taking on water,” MacKenzie said. “It’s that we took off and no one had life jackets on, there was no safety, no one talked about the safety of this boat, what happens if (the boat took on water).”

The boat was taken to the nearby island

According to the operator Grupo Pinero, the boat suffered a blow to the hull on the starboard side, apparently caused by a floating log.

In a statement to CTV News Toronto, the company said the captain “followed all protocols, starting with requesting a rescue, inspecting the vessel and ensuring everyone on board followed the rules.”

The company said that after inspecting the boat, the captain decided to take it to Cayo Levantado, a nearby island, while a relief boat was on its way to take the passengers back to shore.

Sinking ship

“As soon as the captain of the boat realized the malfunction, he requested backup and followed all protocols,” the statement said.

Crew ‘did nothing, they explained nothing’

Grupo Pinero said protocols require all passengers to wear a vest at all times, but MacKenzie said no one wore a life jacket during the excursion. He added that during the 40 minutes it took for the emergency boat to arrive and safely transfer the passengers, the crew “did nothing” to provide the passengers with life jackets.

“We made sure they all had life jackets on,” he said of the children and seniors on board. “The crew? I have no idea where they were.”

“…This was one of the scariest things ever,” he said.

There were no reports of injuries as a result of the incident and the passengers on board the boat all eventually returned safely to shore.

When they did, MacKenzie said Grupo Pinero asked passengers to sign legal documents about what happened. The document, an image of which was provided to CTV News Toronto, asked passengers to agree that there had been a “minor inconvenience” with the boat that was “immediately resolved” by the company.

According to MacKenzie, no one signed the document.

Grupo Pinero document

In a statement to CTV News Toronto, Air Transat said they have contacted all affected customers to offer a refund for the excursion, “and to personally ensure that the resolution of this matter meets their satisfaction.” ”

MacKenzie said no insurance company has contacted him, nor has anyone from Air Transat acknowledged the incident occurred. He is considering contacting a lawyer because he is concerned that the company will not make the necessary changes.

“Compare it to life experience or whatever,” he said. “But they won’t change what they do until someone holds them accountable for the fact that what happened there was extremely dangerous.”

MacKenzie told CTV News Toronto that the tour was purchased through an Air Transat representative

In a statement, Air Transat said that since the incident they have contacted all affected customers to offer a refund for the excursion, “and to personally ensure that the resolution of this matter is to their satisfaction.”

MacKenzie said he is considering contacting a lawyer after the incident because he is concerned the tour operator will not make necessary safety changes.

“Compare it to life experience or whatever,” he said. “But they won’t change what they do until someone holds them accountable for the fact that what happened there was extremely dangerous.”