Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for February 21, 2014

Lake surrenders man’s body seven months after tragedy

Using sonar, video and a remote-controlled underwater vehicle, police have found the body of a man who went missing after high winds and waves swamped the boat he and his wife were riding in on Teslin Lake last summer.

By Christopher Reynolds on February 21, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Using sonar, video and a remote-controlled underwater vehicle, police have found the body of a man who went missing after high winds and waves swamped the boat he and his wife were riding in on Teslin Lake last summer.

Yukon RCMP located the remains of the 39-year-old Calgary man, missing since July 16, 2013, deep beneath the ice Tuesday.

Originally from Ukraine and on vacation in the Yukon from Calgary, the couple departed from a Teslin dock in a five-metre fibreglass outboard motor boat to cruise the lake that day.

“They went out early evening in relatively good conditions, but by the time they headed back toward Teslin, the wind and weather had picked up and their little boat ended up being swamped,” RCMP Staff Sgt. Brad Kaeding said in an interview today.

The pair ended up in the water at around 10 p.m.

The 24-year-old woman was able to swim to shore wearing a life jacket. She then hiked about two hours before finding a cabin, from which the Teslin RCMP were called.

The man was last seen in the water south of the village.

Police from Whitehorse, Carcross and Watson Lake helped in the search effort.

Search and rescue workers were deployed from Teslin and Whitehorse. And a boat and helicopter search began along the lake and shoreline.

While a few items from the boat were retrieved, no sign of the man nor the boat was seen.

Yukon RCMP recently contracted a B.C. company to send a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) on a subsurface search where the man was believed to have drowned.

SeaVeyors Environmental and Marine Services of Courtenay, B.C. found his body 45 metres underwater in less than an hour using the ROV — equipped with side-scan sonar and video.

The device’s “grabber arm” helped retrieve the body in several more hours.

“It’s sort of like a little turtle on a long line,” Kaeding said.

“We dug a little hole (in the ice), probably about 60 centimetres square, just big enough to put their equipment in.”

The ROV descended to the lake floor, scanning it from a 300-metre line.

Police used sonar last July to search for the missing man, but could not get an accurate reading largely because the sound pulses were emitting from a boat on the lake’s surface, further from the body than the submarine ROV.

From a tent furnished with computers and little else on the lake ice south of Teslin, RCMP and the SeaVeyors confirmed the location of the body with video.

Police are working with the Yukon coroner’s office to complete the investigation.

Police are not disclosing his name in accordance with the family’s wishes.

Alcohol was not a factor in the tragedy, Kaeding said.

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