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Search for missing boaters now a recovery effort

The recovery effort for two missing men is focused on this area of Kinbasket Lake. - Revelstoke RCMP
The recovery effort for two missing men is focused on this area of Kinbasket Lake.
— image credit: Revelstoke RCMP

The search for two boaters who went missing on Kinbasket Lake on Monday has turned into a recovery mission, RCMP say.

Michael Murphy, of Mission, B.C., and Allen Healy of Osoyoos, B.C., were reported missing after they didn't return from a fishing outing on Monday, July 7. They left in their 4-metre aluminum boat from the Mica Dam boat launch at around 6:30 p.m. and when they didn't return to their rooms that night, their co-workers reported them missing and a search was initiated.

After three full days of searching, Staff-Sgt. Kurt Grabinsky of the Revelstoke RCMP said the event has gone from a search and rescue effort to a recovery mission.

"The RCMP is focussing all resources on the water, where it is suspected that the two male boaters have drowned," he wrote in an e-mail Friday morning.

More resources are being deployed following three days in which the RCMP, Revelstoke Search & Rescue, BC Hydro, and the family of Michael Murphy searched the lake and the shoreline. An RCMP dive team member is on scene to determine the feasibility of diving, said Grabinsky.

As well, Ralstons Search and Recovery, a private search and recovery team is searching the water, using a side-scan sonar device and a remote operational vehicle to search the lake.

In May, Ralstons successfully recovered the bodies of three teenagers 18 days after they drowned when their boat capsized on Slocan Lake.

On Wednesday, searchers uncovered their first signs of the missing men when a cooler and a pair of sandals belonging to one of the men was found. As well, a helicopter found an oil slick on the lake. The items were found in Potlatch Bay, where the search is now being focused.

Murphy's family are on the scene, helping with the search.

“We got here [Tuesday] night and started searching,” said Michael's son Richard, who was joined by a second brother and mother Wednesday. “We searched until it was dark.”

Richard was expecting his father back for the August long weekend where they would have enjoyed a family reunion and a celebration to mark his parents’ 31st wedding anniversary.

“He was doing an extended trip because they were wrapping up a job.”

Both men worked for Western Pacific Enterprises, a contractor that has been been servicing the Mica Dam site for six years.

The Kinbasket Reservoir is more than 200 metres deep near the Mica Dam and is still not at full pool. It stretches from Mica, 150 kilometres north of Revelstoke, almost to Valemount in the north and also extends south towards Golden.

With files from the Mission City Record

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