A Medi-Vac crew attends the scene at Harrison Lake boat launch August 11.

No body found in search for missing swimmer

The search was called off last week for a missing swimmer presumed drowned in Harrison Lake.

The search was called off last week for a missing swimmer presumed drowned in Harrison Lake.

On Tuesday, Aug. 11 a group of four men were out on a boat. Three of them went swimming and got into trouble in the water. One man was pulled into the boat, another was rescued by boaters nearby. But the third went under the water.

“Given the account of the situation, there was absolutely no doubt that he went under,” comments Neil Brewer, Kent Harrison Search and Rescue (KHSAR) team manager.

The area he disappeared is known as Towboat Straight, about 600 metres off the western shore of Long Island and 2.5 km south of 20 Mile Bay, roughly 160 feet deep.

KHSAR was called to the scene, where they conducted a surface search. Then on August 12, they assisted an RCMP dive team with a sonar search of the lakebed. The search was called off Wednesday afternoon.

“The incident is now considered to be a recovery operation,” reports Cpl. Mike Rail, RCMP spokesman.

He says the plan is for an RCMP underwater recovery team to come back to Harrison some time in August to make another attempt at finding the body of the missing swimmer.

KHSAR invested 155 volunteer hours in the search, including the use of two boats and two seadoos. A fixed wing plane conducted an aerial search and an RCMP helicopter assisted.

An air ambulance was also dispatched in Aug. 11 but left without a patient on board. The man rescued from the water by a nearby boat was taken by ambulance to Chilliwack Hospital.

The missing swimmer’s name will not been released by the BC Coroner’s Office as it is not officially a death until a body is recovered.

The August 11 incident is the latest in a string of deaths this summer. On August 7 a young woman died while swimming at Coburn Beach on the east side of Harrison Lake. And in June, two men died when they left an inflatable raft to swim back to shore. Gary Duong and Daniel Reid’s families and friends created a video asking for signage to be posted in Harrison warning of the cold temperatures in the lake and urging people to be aware of the risks of this lake. Several say in the video they had no idea that Harrison was so dangerous.

However, Barb McLintock, media relations for the BC Coroner’s Office, says statistically, Harrison Lake is not even close to the top of the list when it comes to lakes that claim lives. There were fewer than five deaths in Harrison Lake in the years 2008-2014. Okanagan Lake had 21 deaths in the same period.

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