News

Body of missing Lake Cowichan man found

Rodney MacKinnon - courtesy RCMP
Rodney MacKinnon
— image credit: courtesy RCMP

The body of missing Lake Cowichan man, Rodney MacKinnon, was found by his cousins and a friend late Thursday, the News Leader Pictorial has learned.

MacKinnon's mother, Debby Skramstad-Nickell, said her son's remains were located near an area of dense bush Cowichan Search and Rescue crews had diligently combed in the Fairservice logging-road network, between Lake Cowichan and Mesachie Lake.

Skramstad-Nickell explained she's distraught yet thankful closure can start now that her 35-year-old boy's body has been found after he went missing May 1.

"I was devastated on hearing," she said of the grim news after three weeks of anguish.

She spent Thursday night on the mountain hoping searchers would gain hints about MacKinnon's disappearance.

With one waiting game over, another is in play: official word about the cause of MacKinnon's death.

"They're not saying anything at this point," she said of RCMP investigators and medical experts sifting clues involving the body, and MacKinnon's truck found in the Fairservice area.

Skramstad-Nickell said her son had been upset after "a huge fight" with a female friend.

"He was on the mountain to clear his head."

When MacKinnon failed to return from the bush, in an area familiar to him, Cowichan SAR teams and police started an extensive dragnet.

It was called off around May 6, but family and friends continued looking for the guy they described as an intelligent, caring, artistic gentleman.

"Search and Rescue were wonderful," his mom said, saluting her kind community too.

"The minute the RCMP called them out, they were on it right away."

Still, she couldn't help believing persistent RCMP tracking dogs may have found her son sooner.

"It disturbs me Rod lay in the bush for three weeks.

"I honestly feel a scent dog would have shortened that period — the whole family feels that way; they're so frustrated."

MacKinnon's high-school friend, Heather McNeely, was also struggling to accept the loss of "a very special person."

"Rod was very intelligent and quiet; we had deep conversations about things."

McNeeley, who helped search, cited MacKinnon's creative side too.

"He had a lot of talent that I don't think people saw.

"He wrote quite a lot of poetry, and took amazing photographs."

Those shots invariably strayed back to nature, such as eagles, and subjects in nature such as the lake's metal trestle bridge.

"It's sad," she said of her friend who had worked in logging camps ,and aimed to do roofing work in Calgary.

Like his mom, McNeely now awaits official reasons for MacKinnon's death.

"Rod was far too young. No one deserves to just disappear like that."

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