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Update: Student shipwreck survivor has Kelowna connection

Saturday, February 20th, 2010 | 7:07 pm

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Sarah Smith worked in Kelowna prior to setting sail. (Photo contributed)

Update: 7:07 p.m.

A bathing suit, tank top and shorts is all that Sarah Smith escaped with when she and 63 other students and crew members were picked up by a cargo ship Friday after nearly two days in a life raft.

She relayed that detail of her escape from the SV Concordia to her mother, Doris Smith, in a telephone conversation early this evening.

Doris told Kelowna.com that her daughter said a microburst wind came straight down on the ship, causing it to capsize on Wednesday roughly 500 kilometres off the coast of Brazil.

Smith also emphasized that the vessel’s captain is not to blame for the sinking.

Further, the kids have been told that Prime Minister Stephen Harper will meet them when they arrive in Toronto on a date yet to be determined.

Posted: 4:43 p.m

By Joe Fries

One of the 64 students and crew members who survived a shipwreck off the coast of Brazil has a Kelowna connection.

Nineteen-year-old Sarah Smith lived here for two years after graduating in Oliver and worked at American Eagle Outfitters at Orchard Park Mall prior to entering the Class Afloat program, a school for high school and college kids set aboard a tall ship.

The SV Concordia went down Wednesday in rough seas hundreds of kilometres off the coast of Rio di Janeiro. Smith and the others were plucked from life rafts after nearly two days spent bobbing on the water.

Smith’s mother, Doris, told Kelowna.com she spoke with her daughter for a few minutes this morning and said she was in good spirits, “laughing and crying all in the same breath.”

Doris, an Oliver resident, said her daughter is still in Brazil with her mates while arrangements are made to get the young sailors home.

Smith’s mom is planning a welcoming party at Kelowna International Airport, although she is not yet sure when her daughter will arrive.

It was only two weeks ago that Smith set out with Class Afloat, Doris said, and already “she’s grown by leaps and bounds.

“But I think this will have changed her dramatically.”

Her daughter told her she was on a life raft for what was estimated to be 38 to 40 hours with no source of light at night, roughly 500 kilometres from shore.

“You can’t even imagine what she endured,” Doris said.

“She does have a story to tell.”

joe@kelowna.com

250-575-4303

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