British Columbia

Slocan Lake canoe accident: 2 teen boys, 1 man missing

Lily Harmer-Taylor, 19, is dead and three others — Hayden Kyle, 21, Skye Donnet, 18, and Jule Wiltshire-Padfield, 15 — are missing after their canoe overturned on Slocan Lake, north of Nelson, B.C., Saturday afternoon.

Canoe with 4 young people aboard overturned Saturday afternoon about 150 metres from shore

Canoe outing ends in tragedy

7 years ago
One woman is dead and two teens and a 21-year-old man are missing at B.C.'s Slocan Lake 3:37

A 19-year-old woman is dead and three other people are missing after their canoe overturned on Slocan Lake, north of Nelson, B.C., Saturday afternoon.

People who knew Lily Harmer-Taylor have identified her as the woman who died in hospital in New Denver after being found unconscious in the canoe.

Hayden Kyle, 21, grew up on B.C.'s Sunshine Coast and eventually moved to New Denver. He is one of the three missing after Saturday's canoeing accident at Slocan Lake. (Facebook)

Three others — Hayden Kyle, 21, Skye Donnet, 18, and Jule Wiltshire-Padfield, 15 —  couldn't be found when rescue crews reached the scene. The three are still missing.

Dan Nicholson, publisher of New Denver's Valley Voice newspaper, said he knew the group of four and lent them his canoe Saturday.

He said Kyle, who grew up in Gibsons, on B.C.'s Sunshine Coast, had been living at his house in Rosebery, which is about six kilometres north of New Denver along the lake's east shore.

Jule Wiltshire-Padfield, of New Denver, was dating Lily Harmer-Taylor. She was found unconscious in a partially submerged canoe Saturday. Wiltshire-Padfield and two others who were also in the canoe are still missing. (Facebook)

Kyle had moved to Nelson and, when he got laid off from a job there, ended up living in a spare room at Nicholson's home.

Kyle knew Donnet, a local of the New Denver area, from the job in Nelson. Harmer-Taylor and Wiltshire-Padfield, who were dating, were also residents of the New Denver area.

Nicholson said the group of four borrowed his canoe for a paddle over to New Denver, but they didn't take his life jackets.

Nicholson said they made it to town, where he saw them walking around at one point in the day, and that they must have run into trouble on the trip back.

Dan Nicholson said the four borrowed his canoe, shown here, but left the life jackets behind when they went for a paddle between Rosebery and New Denver Saturday. (Isaac Carter/CBC)

"They went back to the beach. They got in the canoe. They started paddling home, and I don't know: Wind came up, something happened, the canoe overturned and they were in the lake," he said. 

"That lake is so cold this time of year," he added.

Slocan Lake RCMP said the detachment received a call at around 5:30 p.m. PT Saturday afternoon after a man walking along a trail near the beach in New Denver saw a partially submerged canoe with two people holding on to it — one at each end.

The canoe was about 150 metres from shore, and the man ran to a nearby home to call police.

Lily Harmer-Taylor, 19, could not be revived and was declared dead Saturday night. (Facebook)

When rescuers arrived, only Harmer-Taylor could be located.

Nicholson said he was told about the accident and went to the hospital to see her.

"They worked on her for five hours, but she never regained consciousness," Nicholson said.

He said the community is struggling with what has happened.

"Lily is dead," he said. "The three boys ... we don't have any definite confirmation yet, but the odds are, far and away, that they are dead as well."

Search continues, healing begins

RCMP Sgt. Darryl Little said Slocan Lake is glacier fed and very cold, and the water where the canoe was found is roughly 75 metres deep.

Little said he is hopeful the others managed to swim to shore.

Rescue crews were out in boats on Slocan Lake Sunday, searching for signs of three young men who went missing after going out canoeing Saturday. (Isaac Carter/CBC)

A search began Saturday night, but was halted when it grew dark. RCMP, search and rescue, and the New Denver Fire Department continued with their search efforts Sunday.

An RCMP helicopter was used in the morning to scan the shoreline, but the crew found no sign of the three missing people. Little said police were still considering Sunday's activities a rescue mission.

Two rescue boats were still searching the lake Sunday afternoon. An RCMP dive team is set to conduct an underwater search Monday morning.

Glacier-fed Slocan Lake is cold and deep. The lake is also known to experience sudden storms. (Isaac Carter/CBC)

Little said the parents of all four have been notified, and grief counsellors have been made available at a New Denver school.

"It devastates the communities when you're losing some young people out of your communities," Little said.

"We're hopeful we'll find them still alive, but again it's very tough on the community because it's so small that everybody knows each other."

But many in the community who know the lake well seem to believe there is little hope.

On Sunday night, a number of people in the area gathered for a community healing ceremony on a beach on the shore of Slocan Lake.

Members of the local communities gathered on the shore of Slocan Lake for a healing ceremony Sunday night. (Carolyn Dunn/CBC)

Google Maps: Slocan Lake, B.C.

With files from the CBC's Bob Keating and Richard Zussman