Prominent realtor, employee rescued from burning boat
Published Thursday, October 1, 2015 6:12PM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, October 1, 2015 7:57PM PDT
A prominent Richmond realtor and his employee were pulled to safety from a burning vessel off Point Grey Wednesday as three rescuers braved flames and a possible explosion to save their lives.
George Kalpidis and two friends got close enough to pluck the pair from the waters – but didn't want to get too close as they worried they could be injured too, Kalpidis said.
"If the gas tank explodes, I don't care how far off you are, some pieces are going to get on you, you never know," Kalpidis recalled from his Surrey restaurant, My Greek Taverna, on Thursday. "That's why we had to take off."
But despite their actions, the trio insist they're no heroes.
"It could have happened to us. We help each other out," said another rescuer, Jean Skyrianos.
Pulled from the water were realtor Sean Lawson and his office manager, Grace Campbell, his office confirmed.
The pair was en route back to a Delta marina after a trip to Bowen Island, Kalpidis said.
But then Kalpidis said the boat engine must have overheated and started a fire. Soon the fire was so large the pair had to abandon ship.
"We saw the flames on the boat, black smoke, and right away, I said, 'That boat is burning!' I saw the people jump in the water, two of them," said Kalpidis.
He steered his boat close to the other to find Lawson and Campbell panicking, clinging to debris in the water. Kalpidis, Skyrianos, and a third friend Kosta Pappas pulled them aboard.
"I said to her, 'Relax, you're safe,' and she started to relax a bit," Pappas said.
Many of their belongings fell in the ocean, and both of them lost their phones, he added. Lawson's wallet was still with him, and he offered to pay for Campbell's missing items, Kosta said.
The incident was reported to the Coast Guard at 4:58 p.m. The Coast Guard said their zodiac was patrolling in nearby waters and arrived six minutes later, at 5:04 p.m.
A fire boat arrived 21 minutes later, at 5:25 p.m., and started putting out the fire. The boat sank, leaving a film of burning fuel on the water. The Coast Guard said there was little environmental impact.
Neither Lawson nor Campbell responded to attempts by CTV News to contact them.