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RCMP, community members search for victims after fishing boat capsizes on Bella Coola River

One body has been recovered, two others are missing

Local search and rescue teams have recovered one body and continue to search for two more after a fishing guide boat capsized Tuesday, Aug. 10 on the Bella Coola River.

Just after 11:30 a.m. the Bella Coola RCMP were notified after a partially capsized drift boat was sighted going down stream on the Bella Coola River near Walker island Park, noted Sgt. Chris Manseau of the BC RCMP communications section in a news release.

The boat was identified as a fishing guide boat from a local lodge. There were no persons found on or near the boat, and there was believed to have been three people aboard, say police.

Just after 7:30 p.m. Tuesday (Aug. 10) members of the Bella Coola Valley Search and Rescue along with Campbell River Search and Rescue, with the use of a helicopter, helped locate the body of an individual approximately two kilometres above Grant Road, and four kilometres downstream from Walker Island riverbank. RCMP frontline members are working with the BC Coroners Service to identify the victim.

More than a dozen local volunteers have been searching for days for any sign of the missing boaters in the Bella Coola River, which is currenlty high and muddy due to the snowpack melt from this week’s hot weather. These groups taking part in the search include BCVSAR swift water rescue team and ground team, Department of Fisheries and Oceans stock assessment and hatchery teams as well as Nuxalk First Nations and the Nuxalk River Guardians.

Manseau noted the Bella Coola RCMP continue to work with their search and rescue partners to search for the two people who remain missing.

“Both air and water searches are continuing in the area … in hopes of finding the two missing people.”

Ian Leuenberger, a friend of one of the missing, said members of the Nuxalk River Guardians and Nuxalk First Nations have been working day and night with their own boats to aid in the search, and were the ones who recovered the body.

“Their efforts are unbelievable,” Leuenberger told Black Press Media. “They can’t be given enough credit for what they are doing.”

The BC Coroners Service is also conducting a concurrent fact-finding investigation into the unexpected death, said Manseau. Due to the privacy of the deceased, their name will not be released by police.

The Bella Coola RCMP request anyone who may have information on this incident, or saw the boat earlier on August 10th to contact the detachment at (250) 799-5363.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to give recognition to all the local volunteers who are working on the search.

Angie Mindus

About the Author: Angie Mindus

A desire to travel led me to a full-time photographer position at the Williams Lake Tribune in B.C.’s interior.
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