Les Wetselaar identified as Columbia River drowning victim

Les Wetselaar, 69, died after he fell into the river on Wednesday, Apr. 20, nat around 1 p.m..

Revelstoke RCMP have released the identity of the man who drowned in the Columbia River on Wednesday.

Leslie Wetselaar, 69, died after he fell into the river on Wednesday, Apr. 20, at around 1 p.m.

Police say he and some friends were hanging out by the river when he lost his balance and fell in. His friends tried to rescue him, but were unable to pull him out of the current.

Wetselaar was swept into the river and still has not been found.

Wetselaar, or Les, as he was known, was a familiar face to many around Revelstoke. He was one of the community’s true homeless people and could often be found in or outside local cafe’s, engaging people in a friendly chat and panhandling.

He also battled problems with alcohol, which caused him to get into trouble from time to time.

RCMP and Search & Rescue spent Wednesday afternoon and Thursday searching the river by boat, helicopter, and on foot searching for Wetselaar, with no luck. The searched from Centennial Park all the way to the 12 Mile Flats. BC Hydro reduced the flow of water into the river to help with the search.

Staff-Sgt. Kurt Grabinsky of the Revelstoke RCMP  told the Review they would continue to look for him, but that SAR has been stood down.

Police are asking his family to contact them at 250-837-5255.

More to follow…