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UPDATE: Chilliwack teen sole survivor of NWT boating accident
A 13-year-old Chilliwack teen is the sole survivor of a tragic boating accident on the Mackenzie River near Inuvik sometime Wednesday.
The teen's mother and seven-year-old sister died when their 18-foot (4.5-metre) aluminum boat capsized and sank.
Search efforts for the woman's father and another man are winding down today as they are presumed drowned.
Police say 13-year-old Peyton Kisoun-Hind was in severe shock, but otherwise uninjured after he was found Saturday sitting "quietly on the shore" of the Mackenzie River.
"The rescuers said he gave a small wave and asked them for a ride back to Inuvik," RCMP Staff Sgt. Bill Eubank told The Progress yesterday.
He said the bodies of mother Delma Kisoun, 40, and her daughter, Asta Kisoun-Hind, 7, were found about an hour later half a mile further downstream.
Delma Kisoun's father, Victor Allen, 80, and Isaac Shingatok, 40, both of Inuvik, are still missing.
Delma and the two children were long-time carriers for The Progress, delivering papers in the College Street area for the past five years.
"It's an absolute tragedy," said carrier supervisor Bonnie Wilson. "At age 13, what a horrible age to lose your family."
"They were really quiet children," she said. "They were a really nice family."
Eubank said yesterday that Peyton is "physically fine," but still recovering from the trauma and staying with family in Inuvik.
The group of five left the small town Monday evening in the 18-foot aluminum boat bound for an old whaling station on Kendall Island, "a popular spot up here," Eubank said.
They stayed at 60-mile Camp on the Mackenzie River until Wednesday afternoon when they headed north again.
But then the boat entered an area where two channels meet in the massive river delta to form "a lake in the middle of the river" about two miles wide and six miles long, Eubank said.
"We're almost into the barrens up here, so it's subject to all the elements," he said.
Peyton told rescuers that the boat was "hit by a big wave and swamped," dumping everyone into the icy water.
Eubank said the two adult men went down with the boat, but Peyton and his mother and sister stayed afloat holding onto a piece of luggage.
"The young girl had a life jacket on and the young boy had a float jacket on (but) the woman did not," he said.
Peyton old rescuers that the three survivors floated in the water for two hours, before his mother and sister "drifted away," Eubank said.
But he believes it could have been a much shorter time, given the icy waters and the trauma of the accident.
"It may have felt like two hours, but in the arctic waters it could have been a matter of minutes," he said.
Peyton couldn't swim with the float jacket on, so he removed it and swam for shore where he was found "very quietly sitting on the river bank" Friday afternoon at about 4 p.m.
Peyton told rescuers that he'd been there for three days, but Eubank said that could also be the result of the boy's confusion in the 24-hour arctic days.
A massive search for the two missing men continued for the next three days, but no signs were found.
"We have not found anything else ... not even debris," Eubank said.
A search by family members is continuing.
Eubank explained the massive community response by saying the family was "very well-known up here and highly respected."
"I've never seen a response like this," Eubank said. "It was just amazing."
In addition to more than 18 local businesses, "every government agency you could think of" was involved, he said.