After 18 days of tireless searching, the bodies of three male youths drowned in Slocan Lake have been retrieved in approximately 500-feet of water.
“I think everybody’s relieved at this point that we were able to find the bodies of these three young men and reunite them with their families,” said Sgt. Darryl Little, the media liaison officer for the Central Kootenay Regional RCMP.
The bodies were located by private company Ralston and Associates on May 26, after the initial search had been called off. The families of the deceased youths had hired the company to utilize a submersible to continue scouring the bottom of the lake. On Wednesday morning a clamper arm was used to dislodge the bodies from their resting place and bring them back to the surface.
The retrieval operation on Wednesday morning took approximately three hours. The bodies of Hayden Kyle, 21, Jule Wiltshire-Padfield, 15, and Skye Donnet, 18, are now with the BC Coroners Service.
The remotely operated vehicle (ROV) normally needs to anchor offshore before descending beneath the surface, but calm conditions on Wednesday morning allowed it to hurry up the process.
“The weather really cooperated. In this case the water was so calm they were able to deploy the ROV and make the recovery a lot faster than anticipated,” said Little.
Little emphasized the collaborative nature of the mission, which consisted of New Denver Search and Rescue, the RCMP dive team and the BC Coroners Department, as well as Ralson and Associates.
However, he said there is a zero percent chance that the community will ever fully know what happened on May 10. He said no additional evidence was recovered from the scene.
“We cannot presume what happened. Our best speculation is misadventure. It wasn’t a very big canoe. It was more of a swift water canoe than a lake canoe. There wasn’t much space below the gunnels and we figure the wind came up and that was it.”
None of the four occupants were wearing life jackets. A fourth body was recovered immediately on the day of the incident. Lily Harmer-Taylor, 19, died in hospital.
The BC Coroner Service confirmed the identities of the bodies late on Wednesday.
The RCMP will be covering the expenses of the families.