An aerial view of the spot on Muchalat lake that the Nootka Sound RCMP have recorded as the last known site of Silvio Strussi from 1970. The National Underwater Training Centre of the RCMP will conduct a search operation this week. Photo courtesy, Nootka Sound RCMP

An aerial view of the spot on Muchalat lake that the Nootka Sound RCMP have recorded as the last known site of Silvio Strussi from 1970. The National Underwater Training Centre of the RCMP will conduct a search operation this week. Photo courtesy, Nootka Sound RCMP

RCMP dive team to search for man missing since 1970 in remote Vancouver Island lake

Divers join family quest to locate grandfather’s final resting place on Muchalat Lake near Gold River

A specialized RCMP dive unit is headed to a remote northern Vancouver Island lake today in an effort to help close a 50-year-old wound.

The team is headed to Muchalat Lake near Gold River, packing their latest technology in an attempt to locate the body of a logger who died there in 1970.

Sgt. Jay White, head of the National Underwater Training Centre in Nanaimo decided to pursue the case of logger Silvio Strussi – whose body was never recovered after he died in an industrial accident – after Strussi’s grandchildren shared their quest for closure in the Campbell River Mirror.

Strussi, 40, was part of the road-building crew with the now defunct Tahsis Company and was operating a bulldozer when it tumbled into the lake.

READ MORE: Closing a 50-year-old wound on a remote Vancouver Island lake

The RCMP reached out to Kimberly Chastellaine and Sean Smith, who have been on a journey to find the last resting place of their late grandfather who died when their mother was 16-years-old.

A team consisting of White and two other divers will be in Gold River Nov. 6 to conduct a preliminary sweep of the area. He told the Mirror the team is looking forward to testing the capability of some newly acquired equipment with this case. Following which the team will launch their boat on Saturday and begin their search from the last known site of the body in the lake, then expand to other areas if necessary.

The team will be using a new remote operated vehicle (ROV) they acquired from a Vancouver Island-based operator. The robot will be controlled from the boat and can go to a depth of 10,000 feet, said White.

Along with the ROV they will also use sonar technology – that uses sound waves to detect underwater objects – to locate the bulldozer that Strussi was operating during the time of the accident.

The expedition could take anywhere between three hours to three days depending on the weather, said White who is keeping his “fingers crossed” for a successful expedition.

The dive team will be collaborating with the Nootka Sound RCMP in Gold River where the case file is still open. The Nootka Sound detachment will be providing the dive unit with the GPS coordinates of the last known site of the accident.

The police said they still monitor all the historical missing-persons files from the ‘60s. Most are cases of those who have gone missing at sea.

“Investigators routinely go to the last known spots to see if any new evidence has washed ashore,” said Cpl. Kimberly Rutherford from the Nootka Sound detachment.

She also said that having the underwater team come in is a “big step” for the detachment as it provides technological support for such cases.

While Rutherford is “excited,” she also said that reopening a missing person’s file brings about a lot of emotions.

“We try our best to be compassionate to the families and our hope to bring closure to the families,” she said.

A couple of weeks ago, Chastellaine and Smith visited Gold River and were taken to the spot on the lake where the locals believe is their grandfather’s last resting place.

The family is expected to visit Gold River again over the weekend as the dive team begin with their search operation.

RELATED: Closing a 50-year-old wound on a remote Vancouver Island lake

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Gold RiverRCMP

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Holly the stuffed Rottweiler has been missing from the front of Lucky Dog U-Bath since Feb. 24. (Submitted photo)
Holly the stuffed Rottweiler is missing from Duncan shop

Toy dog missing from front of Lucky Dog U-Bath since Feb.24

Martha Jane McHardy displays her knitwear in one of the windows at Imagine That! in Duncan this month. (Submitted)
Arts and Entertainment column: Lots to see in Duncan in March

Funding success, painters show, folk art, tell your COVID story

The Kinsol Trestle in Shawnigan Lake is a sight to behold. Funding for the expansion of the Shawnigan Museum celebrates its 100th anniversary. (Citizen file)
Shawnigan Museum expansion gets $480,000

Funds from Government of Canada Legacy Fund - Building Communities through Arts and Heritage program

A Cowichan Valley mom is wondering why masks haven’t been mandated for elementary schools. (Metro Creative photo)
Cowichan Valley mom frustrated by lack of mask mandate for elementary students

“Do we want to wait until we end up like Fraser Health?”

Clockwise from top left: Malahat First Nation Chief George Harry and councillors Steve Henry and Cindy Harry address community members in a video posted to YouTube on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (Screenshot)
Malahat Nation confirms first two cases of COVID-19

Community has been under stay-at-home order since Jan. 7

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

The intersection of Melrose Street and Third Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Suspect in custody after two pedestrians struck in Port Alberni hit and run

RCMP asking for video footage, credit witnesses for quick arrest

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Comox Valley RCMP raid Courtenay problem house, several arrests made

Comox Valley RCMP conducted a raid of a problem house on 20th… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Most Read