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RCMP believe camper drowned in Harrison Lake

A massive search for a camper who went missing more than a week ago has been significantly scaled down.

RCMP announced last Tuesday that they believe Raymon Salmen drowned near a remote and dangerous portion of Harrison Lake.

Raymond Salmen, of Vancouver, went missing June 9 from an area known as the 48 kilometre mark, prompting Agassiz RCMP to lead a massive land-and-water search. They initially were responded to a complaint of shots being fired in the area. It is now thought that the shots heard were a distress signal from Salmen.

Kent-Harrison and Chilliwack Search and Rescue teams, the RCMP Lower Mainland District Emergency Response Team, the Lower Mainland Tactical Troop, RCMP Air Services, Police Dog Services and the Underwater Recovery Team all searched for more than a week for Salmen.

In the afternoon of June 13, RCMP Air Services saw balloons at a secluded beach approximately 400 metres north of his campsite.

That led to a ground search of the area, where RCMP found clothing and spent shell casings. Their conclusion was that Salmen may have been hurt but, because of cliffs and rocky outcrops, couldn't get off the beach. They theorize that he fired his gun, trying to get someone's attention.

They believe that when that didn't work he tried, and failed, to swim back to his camp.

A search of the lake on June 14 didn't find anything.

“This section of Harrison Lake is very deep, and the water rapidly plunges to a depth of 160 metres,” said RCMP Cpl. Len vanNieuwenhuizen. “The depth of the lake and the sunken physical features of logs and boulders present challenges in locating Mr. Salmen.”

Agassiz RCMP will continue looking.

In the meantime, Salmens' next of kin have been notified.

When RCMP initially responded to the calls of gunfire, they found Salmen's campsite and his dogs left behind.

Anyone who has info that might be useful in determining what happened is asked to contact the Agassiz RCMP at 604-796-2211 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

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