January 31, 2019 5:45 pm
Updated: February 1, 2019 9:11 am

RCMP divers recover remains, items from 1959 plane crash in northern Saskatchewan lake

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RCMP divers have recovered human remains and items from the site of a plane crash nearly 60 years ago in northern Saskatchewan.

The single-engine Cessna 180 vanished on Aug. 20, 1959, with pilot Ray Gran and Saskatchewan conservation officer Harold Thompson onboard.

READ MORE: RCMP dive team hopes to locate long-lost plane in northern Saskatchewan

They were on a short flight from Buffalo Narrows to La Loche to investigate poaching and deliver mail.

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The RCMP underwater recovery team travelled to Peter Pond Lake on Jan. 27 to search for the long-lost wreckage of the float plane.

Two divers went into the 2 C water on Jan. 30, with close to zero visibility at times.

“At the bottom, you can’t see your hand. You have to use a light close to your chest to see what you picked up,” said Const. Peter Rhead, one of the divers.

“I wish I had more time to see the whole plane, but it was important to gather what we could from the cockpit. I saw the colours and markings on the plane; it’s obvious it is the right plane.”

READ MORE: RCMP to begin dive to float plane wreckage in Sask. lake

The two divers brought back to the surface some remains of Gran and Thompson, and personal items including boots, a pendant, camera, knife, and wallet.

The remains and belongings have been turned over to the coroner’s office, and will be released to the families once the investigation is complete.

The RCMP said they hoped the recovery operation will provide some closure.

A private search, launched by Gran’s daughter and son-in-law, used sonar to find the wreckage of a plane in July 2018 in roughly 16 metres of water.

READ MORE: Dive to find plane wreckage in Saskatchewan lake delayed until winter

RCMP divers had originally planned to carry out their search of the northern Saskatchewan lake in August 2018.

They had to postpone the search after encountering a number of challenges, including strong winds, high waves, and low visibility.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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