Two teenage boys from Langley who went missing after their canoe overturned in a lake near Merritt are presumed dead, police say.

"Because of what we know, and what we've found, our conclusion is that they're missing and they're presumed drowned," said Const. Mike Damien of the Merritt RCMP on Tuesday.

Nicola Lake, B.C.Nicola Lake near Merritt, B.C.

Damien spoke as an RCMP dive team and helicopter searched the waters of Nicola Lake for the bodies of Austin Kingsborough, 17, and Brendan Wilson, who would have turned 18 on Monday.

Nicola Valley Search and Rescue began their search on Sunday night, after the boys were reported missing by family members when they failed to return for dinner.

They had been camping on a family property near the lake, about 150 kilometres west of Kelowna.

Monday’s search located the boys’ overturned canoe, along with a baseball cap, running shoe and head lamp, but no life jackets.

Family and friends have joined the search effort, with some going out in a boat to look for the teens themselves.

"You have to do something... you can't just sit back and wait," said Scott Lebus, a family friend who speaks on behalf of the families. 

"I think what's important right now is that we just allow this process to go forward here, and we really are looking for some form of closure from the RCMP or from our own search," Lebus said.

The search crew from Kelowna spent less than two hours on the water on Monday, due to rough conditions.

"There were three- to four-foot waves. It was just like an ocean out there," said local resident John Whittle.

RCMP believe the pair died Sunday when their canoe flipped in strong winds. Officials say the boys likely were not wearing life jackets.

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An RCMP helicopter and dive team scour the water of Nicola Lake, which is subject to frequent sudden windstorms. (CBC/Jaimie Kehler)

With files from the CBC's Jaimie Kehler