The BC Coroner’s Service has confirmed that the two bodies located along the Harrison River last week were those of the men that went missing on Harrison Lake June 8.
Local kayakers spotted a body two kilometres down the Harrison River on Thursday, June 18 and phoned it in. Kent Harrison Search and Rescue (KHSAR) was paged Thursday evening to assist RCMP in its recovery.
KHSAR members spent four hours searching the Harrison River Friday morning, from Harrison Lake right to the Fraser River, but didn’t find the other missing man. Then late Friday afternoon, a fishing guide spotted the body upstream from the highway 7 bridge in Harrison Mills. KHSAR volunteers recovered the subject from the shoreline next to the bridge using a rope system.
“The two separate recoveries on the Harrison River were unusual,” states Neil Brewer, one of the team’s search managers.
Brewer says in his experience, there have been no body recoveries on the Harrison River as the current typically takes the bodies to the Fraser River.
“This was a very sad event for everyone involved,” says Brewer. “But, at least we have provided closure for the families and friends.”
The two men, Daniel Dale Reid, aged 23, and Gary Duong, aged 25, were both from Vancouver. Reid and Duong were part of a large group staying in Harrison. According to KHSAR, eight of them left the beachfront on an inflatable raft on Monday, June 8. Reid and Duong at some point jumped into the water and planned to swim back to shore.
The remaining six individuals had required assistance from KHSAR when they were unable to get back to shore. It was only later in the day that the friends realized the two men had not shown up back in Harrison. Three intensive search days turned up nothing and the search had been called off. KHSAR confirms that when they rescued the six individuals, none were wearing personal flotation devices, and the two bodies recovered did not have PFD’s on either.
On Duong’s Facebook page, tributes have been pouring in since the incident. Friends and family write that he was full of life, was an incredible soul and a “ridiculously talented” artist. One friend writes, “He was a stand-up man, as sensitive to art as he was to the people around him. Rest in peace, bud.”
KHSAR spent more than 300 volunteer hours on the rescue, search and recoveries. The BC Coroners Service and RCMP are continuing to investigate the deaths.