Crews from the RCMP and Search & Rescue were back on the Cowichan River on Feb. 17 in the ongoing search for Ethan Sampson.
Patty Abbott, a manager for Cowichan Search & Rescue, said about 20 volunteers from the unit were joined in Monday’s search by seven members from the Ladysmith SAR and several members from the RCMP.
She said many community members, who have continued to diligently search for the 28-year-old Cowichan Tribes man since he was last seen on Jan. 30 at 10:40 p.m. in the fast-moving river, were also on hand for Monday’s search.
“We had a helicopter in the air in the morning with fast-water technicians looking for any new hazards on the river, like logjams, before we put four of our kayaks in the water to extensively search all the waterways on the river in that area,” Abbott said.
“We also had a team of spotters in the helicopter and groups of volunteers searching the shoreline. Unfortunately, nothing was found on Monday. We’ll now review all the information we have gathered and decide where we are going to go with the search from here.”
The search by the RCMP and SAR was temporarily called off on Jan. 31 as a result of weather conditions and flooding.
The heavy rain and the severe flooding that hit the Cowichan Valley on Jan. 31 caused water levels in the Cowichan River to rise too high for the volunteers with SAR and RCMP rescue units to safely continue to search for Sampson.
Abbott said SAR has been closely monitoring the water levels since then, and Monday was the first day since the storm that it was deemed safe enough to continue the search.
“The water levels on the river had risen so high that some of our rescuers were amazed at how far the silt went inland during the flooding,” she said.
“There are still a lot of flooded areas on the river.”
Jen Charlie, a councillor with Cowichan Tribes, said Sampson’s family is still hoping he will be found.
“Ethan is still out there somewhere,” she said.
“This has been very hard on the family and they continue to hope for a good outcome.”