Swift water hampers search efforts

Searchers still unable to reach truck submerged in Findlay Creek

A helicopter takes off for another fly over Findlay Creek.

A helicopter takes off for another fly over Findlay Creek.

Police continue to monitor conditions at Findlay Creek Falls as efforts to reach a submerged truck continue to be thwarted by fast water.

A few more details around the location of the vehicle believed to belong to the two missing men in the Findlay Creek area are emerging.

The truck, driven by 21-year old Stephen Thomson of Canal Flats, B.C., and 19-year-old Nicholas Hoefnagels of Carstairs, Alta., disappeared on June 9, when the two men left their Whitetail Lake campsite in mid-afternoon.

The truck was located on Sunday, June 16, and Kimberley RCMP Cpl. Chris Newel says it is wedged up against a rock outcropping at the top of  Findlay Creek Falls.

Water levels had dropped a bit and there was some increased clarity over the weekend, allowing a team of 16 Swift Water Rescue Technicians to locate the truck.

Kimberley Sgt. Laurie Jalbert told the Canadian Press that the families of the missing men paid for a blasting permit that allowed some rocks to be blown out at the creek, which revealed part of the truck.

“The truck is fully submerged and appears badly damaged,” Newel said. “The search team attempted to use an underwater camera but the swift flowing water prevented teams from directing the camera into effective positions. SAR teams are exploring other options to get the camera down near the truck.”

Earlier this week Newel said that it still wasn’t certain that the missing men were in the truck. The camera would help confirm that.

Heavy rain this week is hampering efforts to recover the vehicle, or to get a camera in for a look.

The spring freshet is at its peak in June, Newel says.

“At this time the water is flowing at a rate of 50-80 cubic meters per second. This velocity makes it unsafe to enter the water or attempt recovery of the truck.”

While conditions are being monitored, search teams are not on site at all times.

“We are constantly monitoring the conditions and respond accordingly,” Newel said.

“Since the search began police have been in the area at least every second day.

“In addition our SAR personnel, although very dedicated, often maintain full time jobs. A number of employers are very understanding but we need to respect that. We are also conscious of volunteer burn out which can happen in a lengthy involved search like this one.”


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