British Columbia

Veronika Sophie Weaver identified as mother swept away with baby on Puntledge River

The BC Coroners Service has identified Veronika Sophie Weaver as the 26-year old mother who was found in the Puntledge River with her 7-month old baby last week.

Baby remains in critical condition in hospital; Weaver died Friday

Veronika Weaver died after being rescued from the Puntledge River near Courtenay, B.C. on Jan. 30. (LinkedIn)

Veronika Sophie Weaver has been identified as the 26-year old mother who died after being swept away in the Puntledge River with her 7-month old son last week.

The baby remains in critical condition in B.C. Children's Hospital.

The BC Coroners Service released Weaver's identity on Monday and is still investigating how the pair ended up in the river near Courtenay, B.C.

"We'll go wherever the evidence leads us," said Barb McLintock of the BC Coroners Service.

"We will look into all possibilities ranging from postpartum depression to tragic accident but we will need to do much more work to come up with definitive answer."

The investigation will also look into the possibility of a fall caused by a medical condition of the 26-year-old mother, but that's considered less likely given the young age of the woman, said McLintock.

RCMP have said there was no third party involved in the incident.

'Chaotic and urgent' rescue

The mother and son went in the river near the Condensory Bridge on Friday afternoon.

Several witnesses saw them in the fast-moving water, and called 911 at about 2:30 p.m. PT. 

Comox Search and Rescue arrived within 15 minutes and started looking where the mother was last seen, said Paul Berry, the search manager and one of the first on the scene.

"I've been a member of the team for 15 years. This was the most chaotic and most urgent scene I've been a part of," said Berry.

A helicopter spotted the baby boy on one side of the river. He was airlifted to BC Children's Hospital in Vancouver around 3 p.m.

Berry suited up and entered the cold water to look for Weaver. She was finally spotted from above by an RCMP helicopter, deep below the surface, said Berry.

"She had been below the water for a good 90 minutes at that point. We never give up so that's why CPR was begun immediately," said Berry.

 Weaver was taken to St. Joseph's General Hospital in Courtenay, but could not be resuscitated.

Community grieving, offering support

Weaver's death and her son's struggle for life has touched many in the Vancouver Island city, including her coworkers at North Island College in Comox.

"North Island College is extremely saddened, and grieving the loss of a friend and colleague," said college president John Bowman in a statement.

People have left flowers at the Condensory Bridge, and a woman who didn't know Weaver has started an online fundraiser for the baby's care.

"The baby needs the most help it can get, it's got no mother," said Samantha Dimery. She plans to turn the money over to a family member or the RCMP, she said.

The local bottle depot is also collecting donations under the name "Help Baby Grant."

On mobile? Click here to see where the mother and child were seen in the river

With files from Stephanie Mercier and Jeff Harrington