A massive search was launched Saturday morning, March 14, northeast of Coquitlam after a boat carrying five people capsized in the frigid waters of the Pitt River near Grant Narrows.
Rescuers were first alerted to the accident by a local boater along Quarry Road when they witnessed an aluminum-hulled boat overturn in the choppy waters.
Ray Nordstrand, a search manager for Coquitlam Search and Rescue, told The Tri-City News that three of the five people on board were pulled from the water and were taken to Royal Columbian Hospital cold.
"A good Samaritan boater who happened to be on the river assisted in rescuing 3 adult survivors who were taken to local hospitals with hypothermia, shock and anxiety [sic.]," a Coquitlam RCMP spokesperson later wrote in a press release.
The body of one adult woman was pulled from the water.
A fifth, 25-year-old adult male remains missing and is presumed to also have drowned, according to Coquitlam RCMP Staff Sgt. Paul Vadik.
Though sunny, conditions on the water have been trying as high-powered winds swept through the area, knocking out power for 52,000 BC Hydro customers across southwest British Columbia.
By Saturday evening, power was still out for a swath of Port Coquitlam not far from the accident.
“Was it windy? Yeah. Were there swells? Yeah. Was it choppy? Yeah," said Staff Sgt. Vadik in a call with The Tri-City News.
Police said they were still trying to get a hold of family of the victims and so wouldn't give out any more details.
Coquitlam RCMP were one of the first to respond, sending several vehicles, inluding a dive team up river to aid in the search.
Port Coquitlam resident Eden Waggoner was about to go for a walk along the DeBouville Slough trail when several emergency vehicles raced by him, up Quarry road. When he reached the water, Waggoner said “a bunch of guys were putting their dive suits on” before racing away.
“It was quite windy. They struggled to get up in that little boat,” he said.
Another boat and ground team from Coquitlam Search and Rescue sped to the area round 2 p.m. to aid in the search, and a Talon helicopter assisted Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue in the effort.
Multiple fire departments were also on scene to aid in the search.
In total, about 20 people are involved in the search.
“It’s a full contingent,” said Nordstrand.
Coquitlam RCMP divers remain on the scene as the rescue effort has shifted into the recovery of what's presumed to be the final body.
More to come…