Editor’s note: Updated with more information, including names of Christina Lake couple.
Christina Lake residents Ronald (74) and Jacqueline Jean Legare (71) are dead after a tubing accident at Cascade Falls, along the Kettle River on Saturday afternoon.
A resident of Scotland, 50, who was visiting the area, is still missing and presumed dead but his name has not yet been released by the B.C. Coroners Service.
“Our air search of the river, right down to the U.S. border, turned up negatively. I ran it with the pilot about five times and (the body) is definitely not in the river,” Grand Forks RCMP’s Staff Sgt. Jim Harrison told the Grand Forks Gazette on Monday.
“We’re quite convinced at this point that the body’s trapped in the falls. Our experience in the past has been that the bodies resurface after a couple of days or anywhere up to a week. We’ll be maintaining a vigil on the falls to see if, in fact, that does occur and we’ll recover the body,” he said.
Some of the Scottish resident’s next of kin have been notified, according the coroners service.
The three were part of a group that was tubing in the area on Saturday and were witnessed being swept into Cascade Canyon.
“At 4:51 p.m. (July 28) our OCC (operational communications centre) in Kelowna received an emergency call from emergency health services,” Harrison said on Saturday night.
“Apparently a party of 13 people were tubing on the Kettle River when they were caught up in the current under the Trestle Bridge and three of the party of 13 went over the Cascade Falls.”
Harrison said that initially on Saturday, crews located Ronald Legare’s body and later in the evening, found the body of his wife, in a pool between the two falls – she was wearing a life-jacket.
Her body could not be recovered Saturday night due to darkness but it was extricated on Sunday with the use of a search and rescue helicopter, Harrison said.
The aforementioned Grand Forks Search and Rescue team and the Christina Lake Fire Department assisted police with the search and according to Barry Savitskoff, Grand Forks Search and Rescue manager, additional help was called in on Sunday from the RCMP and the Provincial Emergency Program (PEP) from other areas of the province – Nelson, Columbia Valley and Castlegar.
Savitskoff said that on Sunday, PEP swift water techs patrolled the water while two teams patrolled the canyon near the falls.
Harrison said an RCMP helicopter was also used Sunday morning to patrol the river.
A witness at the scene reported seeing people recovering a body from the water and performing CPR earlier Saturday afternoon but Savitskoff said the stories about the events leading up to, and directly after the tragedy, are constantly changing.
“We have so many stories. It changes every hour around here,” he said.
“The only thing we can see are some poor choices were made,” Christina Lake Fire Chief Ken Gresley-Jones explained. “When you’re talking about those falls, it’s just not something to play with.”
There were heavy rains that led to a flood watch in early-June and the Kettle River seems higher than usual according to Savitskoff.
“It’s very, very high right now. I figure it’s about five to six feet (about 1.52 to 1.83 metres) higher,” he said, adding that the river conditions become more treacherous in situations like that.
The BC Coroners Service continues to investigate the deaths.