Searchers recover drowning victim from Okanagan Lake
The family of a 25-year-old Abbotsford man has received a measure of closure following the recovery of his body from Okanagan Lake, on Oct. 10.
According to emergency officials, Dominic Cox had been kneeling on the bow of a motorboat when he fell off and was struck by the vessel on the evening of Sept. 11.
“I was in Penticton on Thanksgiving weekend with the family and it was really, really sad,” said Pastor Dean Richmond of the Bridge in Abbotsford who knew Cox since he moved to Canada from Australia.
“But finding him was huge, really awesome for closure and peace for the family. There is just a finality to it.
“I mean it is hard to put words, he’s a guy that died too young. Everybody loved him, he was just a wonderful accepting person.”
The church has rallied around the young family including his wife Kylee who is expecting their second child.
A trust fund has been set up for them because the young man did not have life insurance.
Cox was one of seven people on board who were returning to Penticton Marina after several hours of wakeboarding.
Police said he was not wearing a personal floatation device at the time and initially the others on the boat did not realize he had fallen in the water.
The recovery came just two days before a memorial service in Abbotsford for Cox who is survived by his wife, son and other family members.
The Penticton RCMP and the Penticton Fire Department initially responded to the call however their efforts to find him were unsuccessful and the matter was turned over to search and rescue crews from Penticton and Vernon.
An intensive six-day search by the two agencies, involving about 500 volunteer hours, failed to turn up any sign of Cox.
Last week a team from the Idaho-based, Ralston and Associates, using side-scan sonar equipment, located what appeared to be a body on the lake bottom in about 90 metres of water, too deep for RCMP divers to make an attempt.
Using a remote-operated underwater vehicle, the body was brought to the surface and recovered by Penticton Search and Rescue members.
Barb McLintock, coroner with the BC Coroners Service confirmed the successful recovery and the identity of the victim.
The coroners service is currently investigating the incident, however, she was unable to give a time frame for the report’s completion.
According to Penticton SAR search manager Dale Jorgensen, information received the day before the recovery actually changed the search parameters.
“It turned out the area we had first been told to search was actually a kilometre north of where the body was found but we are happy he was located and that was the end result,” said Jorgensen.
“It’s unfortunate but after a certain point of time the likelihood of a person being alive slips away but it certainly is a matter of closure, particularly for the family, to recover the body.
“We put in a lot of hours and a lot of days, but this is why we volunteer for search and rescue.”
He also had high praise for the dedication of the Vernon SAR group which brought along equipment, similar to what the Ralstons use, to help in the efforts.
“We’re certainly thankful for what Vernon did. They put a lot of hours but it’s a mutual thing, if one of the teams needs help that’s what we do,” he said.