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UPDATE: Search for missing boaters concluded
The search for two men who went missing on Kinbasket Lake was concluded after more than a week without signs of the missing boaters.
Allen Healy, 60, of Osoyoos, B.C., and Michael Murphy, 55, of Mission, B.C., were reported missing after they didn’t return from a fishing outing on Monday, July 7. They left in their 4-metre aluminum boat from the Mica Dam boat launch at around 6:30 p.m. and when they didn’t return to their rooms that night, their co-workers reported them missing and a search was initiated.
Revelstoke RCMP, Search & Rescue and family, friends and co-workers of the two-men searched the lake and shoreline for three days, turning up only a few signs of the two men — a cooler and some sandals.
Last Friday, July 11, the search turned into a recovery mission, with the two men presumed drowned in the vast reservoir. The firm Ralston and Associates Search and Recovery, which in May recovered the bodies of three teenagers who drowned in Slocan Lake, was brought in to locate the men using side-scan sonar technology.
The search proved very challenging, with the lake bottom filled with trees that were not removed before the reservoir was filled in the 1970s.
“Over the four days of operation, the lake bottom has been partially mapped and contains heavily forested and rocky terrain,” said Staff-Sgt. Kurt Grabinsky of the Revelstoke RCMP in a news release early last week. “This type of lake bottom provides great difficulty for the team. The sonar device has been caught up in these flooded trees at depths of 500 feet. The Ralstons persist to locate the bodies of the two males as well as the boat.”
Last Thursday, July 17, Ralstons concluded their search and they and the family left the area. A missing person file remains open, said Grabinsky.
Murphy’s son Richard left for Mica the morning after his father was reported missing. He, along with his brother and sister, immediately began helping in the search, with more friends and family coming to join them at the remote townsite.
Richard spent days hiking the rough shoreline, looking for signs of his father. By Thursday, July 10, 18 friends and family were helping RCMP and SAR with the search.
By that point, he knew his father wasn’t going to be found.
“You’re driving for two hours with no cell service and you’re hoping when you get up there, they’re standing on the shore and you can smack them for being so dumb,” he said. “After a few days you come to reality with it all.”
Michael Murphy and Allen Healy were best friends for 30 years — working and socializing together. Healy did his electrician’s apprenticeship under Murphy when he was in his 40s.
Richard Murphy called Healy “Big Uncle Al.”
“They’re not blood uncles, but he’s my uncle as far I’m concerned,” he said.
For six years growing up, the two families would spend their summers together at Glen Echo Resort near Salmon Arm, camping side-by-side.
I spoke to Richard last Wednesday, July 16, when he was in Revelstoke to pick up his mother before returning to Mica for a memorial service at Potlatch Creek Recreation Site. There, they were planning on erecting a memorial on the bluffs and laying a floating wreath in Kinbasket Lake with two candles on it. The following day the search was called off.
The last time Richard saw his father was about a month ago.
“We had a deck building party where we had 15 people there. It was all our closest friends and families,” he said. “Al, the last time I saw him was at his son’s wedding five weeks ago.”
Richard gave thanks to the work of the RCMP, Search & Rescue, Ralstons and everyone else that helped with the search. “It gave me a newfound and profound respect… for what they do. It’s huge,” he said.