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Recovery efforts now underway on Kinbasket Lake

Memorial ceremony held for two missing men Wednesday night
Mission's Mike Murphy has been missing since July 7.

The search for two missing men on Kinbasket Lake has turned into a recovery operation.

Mission's Mike Murphy, 55, and Osoyoo's Al Healy, 60, were reported missing last week when they didn't return from a fishing trip on July 7. They left in their four-metre aluminum boat from the Mica Dam boat launch around 6:30 p.m. and have not been seen since.

Murphy's family, including his children and wife, helped with search efforts last week and were devastated when the search entered recovery mode on July 11.

"[It was] something that we didn't want to believe, but something that was a shocking reality for us all," said Murphy's son, Richard.

He explained that police believe his dad and Healy, who is Richard's uncle, are in the water along with their boat.

The firm Ralston and Associates Search and Rescue is now patrolling the water with their side-scan sonar devise to search the bottom of the reservoir for the two men.

Because the reservoir is still filled with the trees that were not removed before the construction of Mica Dam, the search is proving difficult.

"Over the four days of operation, the lake bottom has been partially mapped and contains heavily forested and rocky terrain," said Staff Sgt. Kurt Grabinsky of the Revelstoke RCMP in a news release. "This type of lake bottom provides great difficulty for the team. The sonar device has been caught up in these flooded trees at depths of 500 feet."

While most of his family has returned home, Richard plans to stay in the area with his girlfriend until the Ralston team has finished the job.

A memorial ceremony was Wednesday evening at Potlach Creek, Murphy and Healy's favourite fishing spot on the lake, according to Richard. A floating wreath with two candles was released and a cross was planted on the shoreline in memory of the men.

The two men were employees of Western Pacific Enterprises, a contractor working on the Mica Dam.

The Kinbasket Reservoir is more than 200 metres deep near the Mica Dam and is still not at full pool. It stretches from Mica, 150 kilometres north of Revelstoke, almost to Valemount in the north and also extends south towards Golden.

– with files from Revelstoke Times Review