3 young adults missing after tumbling into B.C.'s Shannon Falls
SAR spokesperson says boyfriend-girlfriend among 3 missing
Three young adults, including a young woman and her boyfriend, fell into the waters of Shannon Falls south of Squamish, B.C., and have not been seen since, a search and rescue spokesperson said Tuesday.
The three were hiking with a group of friends when they slipped into the water, according to John Willcox of Squamish Search and Rescue.
Witnesses said a young woman was standing at the edge of the water at the top of the falls, which are about 60 kilometres north of Vancouver, when she slipped into the strong current, said Willcox.
Her boyfriend and another friend jumped in to try to save her, he said.
"The other friends said that they saw the three people go over, out of view from the one pool they were at."
Squamish RCMP said in a statement that they fell 30 metres into a pool below.
According to the provincial parks service, the falls are 335 metres at their highest point.
A search for the three continued Tuesday evening.
Rescuers say <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RCMP?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RCMP</a> underwater camera will help in searching deep pools <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Shannonfalls?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Shannonfalls</a>. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SquamishSAR?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SquamishSAR</a> John Willcox says three young adults, two males, one female still missing. He describes the circumstances... <a href="https://t.co/ZygHpcA4mT">pic.twitter.com/ZygHpcA4mT</a>—@Meerakati
Crews still on scene
Emergency crews from at least seven different agencies have been deployed to the park to find the missing trio.
Personnel and vehicles from Squamish Search and Rescue, the District of Squamish Fire Department, B.C. Park Rangers, B.C. Ambulance and the RCMP have taken over the park's parking lot.
Lions Bay Search and Rescue and North Shore Search and Rescue tweeted they were assisting Squamish Search and Rescue.
LBSAR has been activated to provide mutual assistance to Squamish SAR.—@LionsBaySAR
NSR is responding to provide mutual aid assistance to Squamish SAR at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/shannonfalls?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#shannonfalls</a>—@NSRescue
An RCMP spokesperson said the mission is not considered a recovery mission at this time since there has been no sign of the three missing people. She said crews would search through the night if needed.
Witnesses call 911
Landon James with Squamish Search and Rescue said the mission started with a 911 call around noon PT.
"We had reports from witnesses that saw three people go into the river," James told reporters around 5 p.m. as helicopters roared in the background.
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Squamish?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Squamish</a> SAR confirms three people fell into the water from the top of Shannon Falls shortly before noon. 50+ search crews have been looking for hours but still no sign of any of them. Updates on <a href="https://twitter.com/cbcnewsbc?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@cbcnewsbc</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/cbc?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#cbc</a> <a href="https://t.co/0QeoaAjBNp">pic.twitter.com/0QeoaAjBNp</a>—@CBCtanya
"The witnesses did see them go into the river enough that they called 911 so we can assume that it did not look like a planned entry into the river."
James said crews surveyed the area with helicopters Tuesday. Authorities were also interviewing witnesses and looking over drone footage captured by bystanders.
The cliff face, he said, makes the operation a risky one for rescuers.
He described the falls as having a series of pools above them. Then, the water flows down into a final pool where the water drops off.
"This isn't like a river bed with rocks. This is slick rock that has been carved over millions of years," he said, "It's a very strong current. It's not a place that anyone should ever get close to."
Crews are rappelling down the cliff face as part of the search efforts, he said, and the fire department quickly established "downstream containment" to see if anyone or anything floated by.
Waters freezing cold
B.C. Parks posted on Tuesday that the park closed due to the emergency.
"This park is directly adjacent to Highway 99, making it a popular day-use park," the Shannon Falls web page states. "This park provides picnicking, hiking and access to the trail in Stawamus Chief Provincial Park."
The falls' waters feed from Mount Habrich and Sky Pilot Mountain, the web page notes.
James said the water was freezing cold, but the area the three fell in is not a restricted area and trails even lead to it.
"The rocks are slippery even 10 feet up," he said. "Just don't get into that river."
With files from Tanya Fletcher and Meera Bains