RCMP in Revelstoke are finally able to close a 27-year-old case file involving a missing woman from Vancouver Island, all thanks to a 13-year-old boy and his GoPro.
Solving the case began when guests of the Griffin Lake Cabins spotted a car at the bottom of the lake in August. Everyone thought it was from an accident in 2009 where four people were pulled out of the water, west of Revelstoke on Highway 1.
However, an off-duty RCMP officer who was at the cabins visiting family had told the owners that the vehicle involved in the accident had been recovered from the lake shortly after it crashed. The new find prompted police to take a closer look.
When two officers visited the property, Nancy Werenka, whose family owns Griffin Lake Cabins, took them out on the water. Unfortunately, they couldn’t see the vehicle.
“The conditions have to be perfect,” Werenka told the Revelstoke Review.
|Max Werenak, whose family owns the Griffin Lake Cabins, dove down and took this photo of the submerged vehicle when it was no longer visible from the surface. (Submitted)|
So her 13-year-old son, Max, dove below the surface and took a video of the car with his GoPro in hand.
From there the RCMP called in their Underwater Recovery Team who made it out to the lake on Aug. 24. The vehicle’s license plate was still intact and investigators were able to confirm that it belonged to a woman who had been missing since 1992.
Most importantly: the woman’s body was still inside, said Cpl. Thomas Blakney of the Revelstoke RCMP.
The family later shared that it was Janet Farris who was found. She had gone missing on her way from Vancouver Island to Alberta for a wedding back in 1992.
The vehicle has been carefully towed out of the lake and is now being inspected to determine the cause of the accident.
|Max Werenka, 13, dove beneath the surface of Griffin Lake to retrieve video footage of a vehicle that had been there since 1992. (Submitted)|
Blakney said that there was no damage to the front end of the vehicle, possibly because the cement barriers that are now in place at that location were not there at the time.
But other than that they can only speculate for now, whether she was swerving to miss an animal or had a medical emergency. “We don’t know that,” Blakney said. He hopes that his provides closure for the family.
He also speculated about how many people had come across the vehicle and not reported it to the RCMP, saying this is a perfect example of why people should contact police with tips.
“We follow up those complaints, we follow up those tips,” he said.
The Revelstoke RCMP currently have 26 missing person cases and, just like this one, they hope to bring closure to more families, Blakney said.
“There is the right time of day, the right lighting, the right person, the right place, the right time – there’s a lot of factors that fall into place.”