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Body recovered from Okanagan Lake presumed to be B.C. boat captain

Shrimp boat operator drowned in storm July 24

More than three weeks after Travis Van Hill’s boat capsized, a body has finally been recovered from the water.

The shrimp fishing boat captain was presumed drowned in Okanagan Lake after a storm submerged his vessel during a July 24 storm.

His family received the news on Wednesday, Aug. 16, that a body was recovered in the lake.

On the same day, RCMP dive teams recovered a body in Kalamalka Lake - that of Eli Buruca, who also went missing during the July 24 storm.

Van Hill’s family is still dealing with police, coroner and WorkSafe, but it is presumed the body recovered in Okanagan Lake is that of the captain.

The RCMP Underwater Recovery Team assisted with the recovery around 4:30 p.m.

“The deceased is believed to be the 55-year old man who went missing when his boat capsized on the night of July 24, however, this cannot be confirmed until a positive identification is made,” said Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP media relations Const. Chris Terleski.

Along with the tragedy, it has been a frustrating situation for family as WorkSafe prevented immediate recovery operations.

“His boat sat floating in the water for over a week before recovery operations began,” son Lucas Pool said.

“He could have been trapped inside the air bubble holding up the boat, but red-tape and paperwork prevented any timely response.”

There were three other crew members on board with Van Hill, who all made it out safely.

“He passed doing what he loved,” said Pool.

Van Hill is survived by his wife and four children.

Pool started a GoFundMe to help the family cover costs of living while they took extended time off work to support each other during the lengthy process.

Funds raised will also be used to cover the costs of spreading Van Hill's ashes “on his favorite beach in Belize, where him and his wife were in the process of building their forever home that they worked tremendously hard for.”

READ MORE: Frustration grows as captain still missing, boat still submerged in Okanagan Lake

READ MORE: Kayaker’s body recovered in Kalamalka Lake


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Jennifer Smith

About the Author: Jennifer Smith

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