Body of distressed boater on Cowichan Lake found

The body of a boater last seen in the water and calling for help in Cowichan Lake has been recovered by authorities.

The body of a boater last seen in the water and calling for help in Cowichan Lake has been recovered by authorities.

On Monday at approximately 5 p.m. Cowichan Valley Search and Rescue spotted the body of a 49-year-old male from the Duncan area whose identity has not been released.

He was last observed on Sunday evening just before 6 p.m. in the water, distressed and calling for help, near Maple Grove Campground, which is just past Youbou. A witness took a boat and rowed out to where the man was last seen, but could not find him. The incident was reported to RCMP in Lake Cowichan and officers came out to search the area.

“We combed the area as well and were unable to locate anybody, but we did recover some oars and a gas can, presumably from a boat,” said Sgt. Wes Olsen.

The search continued Monday with the RCMP underwater recovery team, the RCMP helicopter out of Comox and the Cowichan Valley Search and Rescue. It was the group searching the shoreline that observed the body, which was approximately half a kilometre from where the man was last seen in the water.

“Subsequent investigation revealed that a lone male had been seen earlier operating a small red boat out on the lake in that area. Unfortunately the wind came up and I think the lake got rough and unfortunately caused issues for the boater,” said Olsen. “We have not recovered the boat but we suspect that the boat took on water and sank.”

The boat is described as a red fibreglass skiff less than eight feet in length and with a white, four horsepower outboard motor. Police ask that if anyone comes across the boat that they contact the RCMP, who will investigate.

Olsen said that witness who saw the boater earlier in the day on Sunday did not see a life jacket with him. When authorities recovered the body from the water there was no life jacket with him.

“It’s an unfortunate situation and our condolences go out to the family,” said Olsen. “We hate to be involved in these kinds of things. The only positive to take from this is we were able to recover their loved one for them in short order. But it’s a tragedy all around.”

He said since arriving in Lake Cowichan three years ago, this is the first drowning in Cowichan Lake that he can recall.

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