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Alert Bay man presumed drowned after fishing vessel capsizes near Comox (WITH VIDEO)

The boat flipped, tossing four crew members into the ocean while Mel Rocchio was trapped in the engine room, said Rocchio's brother Jim
Alert Bay resident Mel Rocchio

An Alert Bay man is missing and presumed drowned after a fishing boat capsized near Comox on Monday.

Mel Rocchio, 51, was on the vessel “Miss Cory” fishing for herring near Cape Lazo, about three nautical miles northeast of Comox, with four other crew members.

Just before 4 p.m. the boat flipped, tossing four crew members into the ocean while Rocchio was trapped in the engine room, according to Rocchio's brother Jim.

“They had a really big set. The boat was listing and Mel went down into the engine room to turn the pumps on, and while he was down there the boat rolled over,” Jim told CTV Vancouver Island.

As the boat rolled an emergency raft deployed immediately, and the operator of the skiff got the crew members tossed overboard to safety.

A Cormorant helicopter from 19 Wing Comox as well as vessels from the Coast Guard, 442 squadron and Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue went to work trying to find Rocchio.

The search was eventually called off around 7 p.m. Monday night and handed to the RCMP as a missing persons file.

Officials told CTV Vancouver Island weather was calm when the incident happened and believe Rocchio was wearing a personal floatation device at the time.

Jim Rocchio says he wants his brother to be remembered as the big-hearted man he was.

“He was a loving husband, brother, uncle. He didn’t have any kids of his own,” he said.

RCMP officers and Worksafe BC investigators are now speaking with commercial fisherman in an effort to figure out exactly what caused the vessel to capsize.

“You don’t want to blame anybody, but you want to learn from any good that can come out of this, to be able to help somebody else,” said Jim.

— Gazette Staff/CTV Vancouver Island