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Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Vancouver whale watching accident: Family pays tribute to "vibrant, outgoing" 29-year-old killed in tragedy
The family of one of the British victims of the Vancover whale-watching tragedy have paid tribute to her as a "vibrant, outgoing and lovely young woman".
Katie Taylor, 29, was among five Britons who died after the Leviathan II cruiser capsized off Vancouver Island, Canada on Sunday.
In a statement issued by the Foreign Office, her family paid tribute to her: "Katie was a vibrant, outgoing and lovely young woman. She will be very much missed by all of her family and many friends.
"We would ask that you respect our privacy at such a difficult time."
Ms Taylor was originally from Lichfield, Staffordshire but was living in the ski resort of Whistler in British Columbia, Canada, working as a spa supervisor.
Friends also sent messages of condolence online after her sister Rowan Holt, 31, changed her Facebook profile pictures to images of the family together.
Cathy Plover wrote: "Love this picture of you all so much. Treasure your memories. You can keep them forever. Thinking of you all at this difficult time xxx"
Victoria Hammersley added: "I'm so sorry to learn of this sad news. What a terrible tragedy. Sending all our love and support to you all. Please let me know if there's anything we can do xxxx"
Thanking people for the comments, Rowan replied: "Thank you all for your kind words. They've done more than you'll know xx"
Katie's mother Audrey Holt, 57, was too upset to comment at her #160,000 terraced home, where Katie used to live, in Lichfield..
But one neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said: "Katie moved out a while ago now but she was a friendly girl who would always say hello.
"I know her mother had been over to visit her in Canada and everyone said she was having a lovely time. Katie was living the dream out there.
"She was always an adventurous and ambitious young woman who was very popular. She was bubbly, pleasant and just a really lovely person.
"It is just so tragic that she has lost her life in this way at such a young age."
Katie's father Brian Taylor, 66, and sister Lauren Taylor, 27, who both live in flats nearby, were also too devastated to speak.
Lauren said: "We are just absolutely heartbroken. We don't want to say any more."
The others killed were David Thomas, 50, and his 18-year-old son Stephen, from Swindon, Nigel Hooker, 63, from Southampton and ex-pat Jack Slater, 76, who lived in Toronto.
The search continues for a missing 27-year-old Australian feared also to have died.
The tribute comes as investigators revealed most passengers were grouped on the left side of the boat, meaning it was unstable when the boat hit it on the right side.
Marc Andre Poisson, director of marine investigations for the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada which is investigating the disaster, told a news conference the position of most people on one side would have "raised the centre of gravity", and affected the boat's stability.
"We know that most passengers were on the top deck on the port side, that's the left side of the vessel," he said. "This would have raised the centre of gravity, affecting the vessel's stability.
"We also know that the sea conditions were such that a wave approached from the starboard quarter, that's the right of the vessel. We know that the vessel broached and then capsized."
The TSB has interviewed the three crew members and some of the survivors about what happened.
At least two hand flares and one parachute rocket were fired to raise the alarm, and one life raft was used, investigators confirmed.
The TSB said its investigators will try to recover any electronics from the boat to help determine its location when it capsized, and will look at the vessel's maintenance and inspection records.
The boat began to take on water around two hours and 15 minutes after it took off on its whale-watching tour, the TSB said.
Investigators will now examine the wreckage of the vessel, its maintenance history and and consider the weather conditions at the time.
He said the top deck was open whereas the lower deck was enclosed by windows.
A total of 18 people were taken to Tofino General Hospital following the tragedy and some have been transferred to other hospitals.