A private U.S. search team has recovered the bodies of two teenagers who drowned in Nicola Lake near Merritt, B.C., the RCMP said.

Austin Kingsborough, 17, and Brendan Wilson — who was one day shy of his 18th birthday — were reported missing April 21 after they didn't return home from a camping trip. A tip from a local caretaker about a missing canoe directed the search to the lake.

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An RCMP helicopter and dive team search Nicola Lake in late April after two teenage boys went missing. (Jaimie Kehler/CBC)

After an RCMP dive search was unsuccessful, family and friends of the missing boys turned to Idaho to hire a specialized search team, which uses sonar equipment to produce images of the deepest recesses of lakes.

Hours into the search, the bodies of the boys were located at a depth of almost 23 metres in a bay in the lake on Monday, near the area where their overturned canoe had been found two weeks earlier, said Const. Lesley Smith with the North District RCMP.

The families have asked for privacy as they deal with their loss.

The B.C. Coroners Service has taken over the investigation.

With files from the CBC's Jaimie Kehler