A private search team has apparently located the bodies of two teenage boys and a young man, who were presumed to have drowned along with a young woman, in B.C.'s Slocan Lake.

Hayden Kyle, 21, Skye Donnet, 18, and Jule Wiltshire-Padfield, 15, were paddling from New Denver to Rosebery along the lake's east shore with 19-year-old Lily Harmer-Taylor, when the group ran into trouble on May 10.

The private search team of Gene and Sandy Ralston believe they located the bodies at a depth of 150 metres farther from shore than originally thought on Monday afternoon.

Local resident Isy Shumann got in touch with the Ralstons and asked them to come up from Idaho with their specialized sonar system to search Slocan Lake, after something didn't sit right with her about where RCMP focused their search.

Ralston boat and camper

Gene and Sandy Ralston volunteer their time to search for the bodies of drowning victims across North America using their custom designed side scan sonar gear. (Rolston and Associates)

"I've lived in the bay for 10 years and I've watched the wind patterns, and it was impossible for the canoe to be there," said Shumann.

The Ralstons had previously located the bodies of two B.C. teens drowned in Nicola Lake last year using their side scan sonar equipment to search the deeper parts of the lake. Gene Ralston is an environmental consultant specializing in water-related issues and the couple frequently volunteered to search for drowning victims across North America.

After two days on the water, the duo found the three men presumed drowned in a canoe accident. Shumann was also on their boat when the discovery happened.

"At 3:26 p.m., the first image came into view, shortly followed by the second image, very, very close by and it was a very very emotionally charged moment, and to minutes later at 3:36 p.m. the third image came through."

Families notified

Shumann then called the families to let them know the bodies had been found.

"[It was] just one of those moments when you are in shock and — for me — it really, really represents the heartbreak," she said.

"I was able to see it, not only feel it, but see the heartbreak in finding them. But finding them is also this huge relief that not only were they lost but they are now found."

The young woman who also died in the incident, Harmer-Taylor, was found by rescuers on the day of the accident in the partially submerged canoe, but she could not be revived.

Extensive boat, air and dive searches of the lake and shoreline had previously failed to turn up any sign of her friends.

Now that they've been found, RCMP Sgt. Darryl Little said the three bodies should be recovered later this week.

"Additional recovery equipment is being brought in from the Lower Mainland to assist in their recovery," said Little in a statement.

Little added that the RCMP dive team will be providing support in the recovery efforts beginning on Wednesday.

Google Maps: Slocan Lake, B.C.


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