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Missing Lil’wat father and son found dead near McKenzie River

Pair had gone missing mushroom picking the night of Oct. 22
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Peter Oleski and River Leo were last seen at 2 p.m. on Oct. 22. FACEBOOK PHOTOS

Stl’atl’imx Tribal Police and the Pemberton RCMP have confirmed a tragic end to the search for a Lil’wat father and son, who were found dead Thursday afternoon by a search crew near the McKenzie River.

A volunteer search party first located the father, Peter Oleski at around 2 p.m., and contacted police and Pemberton Search and Rescue. Upon attending the area, search crews then found the son, River Leo. Both were deceased.

“I cannot fully express my gratitude for the women and men who searched for River and Peter,” said Kúwpi7 Skalúlmecw Chief Dean Nelson in a release. “The support we received from our neighbours in Pemberton was overwhelming, as was the dedication and commitment of those who combed the mountains looking for the men.”

“We ask that everyone respect the wishes of the family and give them the time and space they need. Information on a gathering will be forthcoming.”

The father and son are thought to have gone missing while mushroom picking in the Upper McKenzie basin during a cold snap the night of Oct. 22. The following day, Mounties were requested to assist tribal police, joining the already extensive search efforts led by the Lil’wat Nation.

In the days that followed, volunteers, friends, tribal police, RCMP, and dozens of search-and-rescue teams from across the province took part in the search, which included help from a 442 Squadron Cormorant helicopter and commercial air services.  

“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Peter and River and with the Lil'wat Nation", says Sgt. Sascha Banks of the Sea to Sky RCMP in a release. "The determination of the Lil'wat community and the search and rescue teams was inspiring to all those who participated in the search. Although this is not the ending we had all hoped for, I am thankful they were located, as this is not always the case with those that go missing in our backcountry."

The Stl'atl'imx Tribal Police, alongside Pemberton RCMP, will work with the BC Coroners Service on their coinciding investigations.