Searchers are scouring the Fraser and Bridge Rivers by air and on foot in search of a Mount Currie male who went missing last week.
Joshua Gabriel, 22, was fishing with family members at around 7 p.m. on Aug. 26 about a quarter of a mile south of the confluence of both rivers. He jumped into the water and made his way out, drawing a warning from people who were with him not to do it again. He then jumped in again, fell beneath the water's surface and has not been seen since.
Corporal Darrell Robinson of the Lillooet RCMP said authorities and family members are performing an exhaustive search of the area, turning to helicopters and foot patrols to try and find a man they believe has drowned.
"Our local federal fisheries are doing daily flights," Robinson said. "In addition to the helicopter, they're looking at Lytton, northbound to Stewart on the Fraser River, we have several family members that are actively searching on the riverbanks between here and they're going all the way down to Hell's Gate I believe."
Robinson went on to say that RCMP members in detachments from Lillooet all the way to Lytton and Boston Bar have been notified of Gabriel's disappearance. They have been given descriptors and are making daily patrols of their areas.
Gabriel is presumed drowned but searchers aren't yet giving up on finding him.
The river in question is a fast-moving one. Eyewitnesses saw him jump in, swim a short distance and then come back up on some rocks. Against the advice of an eyewitness he jumped in the water once more, grabbed this time by a fast current that pulled him into a miniature set of rapids. He swam out of sight after a couple hundred yards.
Gabriel is described as about 5'6" tall, approximately 140 pounds. At the time of the incident he was wearing a white T-shirt, blue jeans and runners.
Robinson, formerly a member of the RCMP's dive team, said bodies have a tendency to float and that if Gabriel is in the river there's a high likelihood he'll float again unless they're "hung up" on something.
Gabriel's family, he said, has performed a search on foot, writing messages on sandbars reading, "Joshua, please come home." Helicopters monitoring the area have noticed the messages.
"It's a pretty traumatic event," Robinson said. "A lot of times when they're food fishing along the river, a lot of them are harnessed in and he didn't use those precautions. The river on average, what I'm told by a fisheries biologist, it's running seven miles an hour, so a body or object can float a long way in an hour even."
Mount Currie band members have set up a Facebook page to provide people with news about Gabriel at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=147380295292606&ref=mf.
Only confirmed news is being posted on the page and members are also posting news about fundraising for the search.
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