News

Body recovered, second person missing in Cowichan River

Search and rescue members scoured the Cowichan River near Skutz Falls Wednesday at about 4 p.m. for the missing woman from Tuesday
Search and rescue members scoured the Cowichan River near Skutz Falls Wednesday at about 4 p.m. for the missing woman from Tuesday's incident.
— image credit: Ashley Degraaf

Search crews were out in full force Thursday morning in their second day of scouring the Cowichan River near Skutz Falls for the missing woman involved in an incident Tuesday resulting in the discovery of the body of an elderly man.

"Shortly after 7:30 p.m....RCMP were dispatched to the Cowichan River, east of Skutz Falls, where witnesses had observed a body floating in the water," stated Sgt. Wes Olsen in a press release. "Officers attended the scene and located the body in the water, near the shoreline. An RCMP diver along with members of the Lake Cowichan Volunteer Fire Department were able to retrieve the body of a deceased elderly man."

Olsen confirmed the deceased and missing woman are from the Cowichan Valley but indications were they had recently moved here from the Main Land.

Although RCMP weren't able to release both the victim and woman's names as next of kin has yet to be notified, they did disclose the deceased was 84-years-old and the missing woman 67.

The BC Coroners Service attended the scene and have engaged an investigation into the death.

There are no indications of foul play.

"Information from other people in the area indicates the deceased was with a woman earlier in the day. He was seen fishing from the shoreline, and she was in a small inflatable boat on the water nearby,"  said Olsen. "An inflatable raft has been located, overturned in the water at the base of the fish ladder."

A 12-hour search of the shoreline and waters was conducted Wednesday with a crew of Cowichan Search and Rescue's ground team members, the RCMP dive team, an RCMP search dog, and the RCMP chopper based out of Comox.

"The chopper was out for a good hour and conducted an extensive search of the area the couple was last seen," said Olsen. "And there was also an extensive search below the falls, in the area right under the falls, and the chopper also followed the length of the river for quite a ways down."

Witnesses, who'd also been fishing in the area earlier Tuesday and who noticed the male fishing, indicated to police the woman was "small in stature," which leads the search crews to the possibility of the current taking her down the river farther than they'd expect, said Olsen.

"We strongly believe her to be in the water," he said. "If someone was on foot, or on water, we'd anticipate they would have seen the helicopter overhead.

"Its an unfortunate situation and we'd like to get some closure."

Olsen warns folks to be cautious when accessing the Cowichan River.

"One thing I've been told is to stay away from the falls," he said, noting he's fairly new to the detachment.
"Don't be fooled by the river being low, it's still dangerous, especially in fast moving spots, and especially in the Skutz Falls area. The rocks are very slippery under the surface."

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact the Lake Cowichan RCMP detachment at (250)-749-6668.

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