Police have identified William Shearer as the man who fell into the Cowichan River on Friday night. At approximately 12 a.m. on Sat. April 14, the 58 year-old man from Calgary Alta., who was visiting his brother in Lake Cowichan, was reported to police to have fallen into the Cowichan River from a property located on Greendale Road. Lake Cowichan RCMP, Lake Cowichan Fire Dept., and paramedics attended the scene but were not able to locate the man. The Cowichan Valley Search and Rescue were then called in and they conducted a ground search along the river which continued into the morning throughout the day.
Search and rescue teams set up their mobile headquarters at the corner of Wentworth and Greendale Roads. According to Vicky Weber, one of the Search and Rescue crew in charge of planning, no-one saw the man fall in, but they did hear a splash. A neighbour in the area says he saw someone searching with a flashlight during the night, and stopped to tell the search and rescue teams that they could use his property as a boat launch. Weber was not sure how long the search would last. “We will at least search through until dark today. There is always a chance he scrambled out and is still alive.”
The search for the man lasted through the early morning hours and into the late afternoon of April 15. A total of 20 search and rescue individuals worked through the night, and were relieved by 30 more individuals from Nanaimo, Duncan, and Juan de Fuca to help the Lake Cowichan team search for the missing man. Searchers focussed their attention on the stretch of river between Cowichan Lake and Skutz Falls. An RCMP helicopter aided those teams on the ground, flying below the tree line and following the river west, then circling back down to Skutz Falls. The search was called off for the evening.
Throughout the day on Sunday, search and rescue efforts continued and added divers into the river with the assistance of local guides and their boats. At approximately 5p.m. of the same day, the search for the man was called off.
Lake Cowichan RCMP issue a reminder to be vigilant near the water.