June 11, 2017 4:54 pm
Updated: June 15, 2017 12:50 am

Helicopters look for boater missing on northern Alberta river amid ‘dangerous search conditions’

File photo of an RCMP cruiser.

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The search continued Monday for a missing boater on the Smoky River, northeast of Grande Prairie, Alta.

“It certainly is a rescue to determine where this individual may be,” RCMP Cpl. Shawn Graham told 630 CHED’s Ryan Jespersen Monday morning.

“They’re using all the resources they can in an effort to find this male.”

On Sunday, the RCMP said one of its service helicopters and a privately owned helicopter began the search for the man, amid what it called “dangerous search conditions.”

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Police said officers responded to a call about a missing boater on the river near River Stone Golf Course shortly before 7 p.m. Saturday evening.

They said a man had been canoeing on the river with two women when the canoe capsized earlier in the day. According to police, all three were able to grab onto a log and float for a number of hours and eventually the two women were able to swim to shore.

READ MORE: Alberta Environment issues high streamflow advisory for Whitecourt area

Mounties said the man did not try swimming to shore because of fatigue.

An initial search of the area involved a STARS air ambulance, a search and rescue team from Grande Prairie and the Grovedale and County Fire Rescue. The search team found the two women along the side of the river. Police said both were suffering from hypothermia.

LISTEN: Cpl. Shawn Graham discusses the ongoing search for a man on a northwestern Alberta river

The RCMP said high levels of fast-moving water along with large debris floating down the river forced them to suspend a ground search for the man Sunday evening, although the aerial search continued.

Graham told Jespersen that search and rescue teams could face similar dangers through the day on Monday.

“That high-level water is also that fast-moving water. Then the debris that’s going down the river … is a concern because there are some large logs that are going down as well that pose some potential hazards.”

The area where the boat capsized is located about 65 kilometres northeast of Grande Prairie.

– With files from Kirby Bourne, 630 CHED

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