The Coquihalla River, the site of a search and rescue and police search late last week, after reports were received of a man in the river. Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard

Rescuers come up empty after scouring Coquihalla River for 50-year-old man

Police, search teams, drones and helicopters were involved in the two-day search

A two-day search of the Coquihalla River for a 50-year-old man came up empty last week, and police are waiting for less treacherous conditions to conduct further searches.

On Thursday, July 2, Hope RCMP received a report from someone who believed they had seen a person floating down the river near the Othello Tunnels. Police attended the scene around 4:15 p.m. and initiated a search of the river.

Other reports soon came in from witnesses who said they saw a man attempting to cross the river using an inner tube, but that he didn’t make it across to the other side. The two sightings are believed to be the same person, spokesperson with the Upper Fraser Valley Regional Detachment Sgt. Krista Vrolyk said.

Members of Hope Volunteer Search and Rescue and Chilliwack Search and Rescue’s swiftwater team scoured the river from Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park and downstream Thursday. They had to abandon the search around 9:15 p.m. as night fell, yet resumed searching Friday.

Both air and ground searches were conducted in what Vrolyk said was an “extensive search by a lot of community partners.” The RCMP’s Air 5 helicopter was also involved, as was Valley Helicopters. An RCMP drone operator searched the shoreline for signs of the man, yet he was not found.

“A complete search of the riverbank was conducted…and there was no body found,” said Cpl. Mike Rail, also a spokesperson with the RCMP in the upper Fraser Valley.

“It’s absolutely treacherous right now,” Rail said of river conditions. Search and rescue teams will go out again, he added, yet there is no date set for a future search.

The investigation remains open and for the time being, police are not releasing more information about the man other than his age.

-with files from Jenna Hauck

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