UPDATED: Search and rescue volunteer’s body recovered

A volunteer with a swift water team drowned in the Goat River on Wednesday afternoon as search and rescue responded to a report of a submerged vehicle. - Lorne Eckersley photo
A volunteer with a swift water team drowned in the Goat River on Wednesday afternoon as search and rescue responded to a report of a submerged vehicle.
— image credit: Lorne Eckersley photo

The body of a Ymir woman who drowned Wednesday in the Goat River while on a search and rescue mission was recovered around noon today.

RCMP identified her as Sheilah Sweatman, 29. She was originally from Manitoba and had been with search and rescue for about two years, assigned to the Kootenay swift water specialists team.

“It is a tragic day for volunteer search and rescue team members from across BC, who saw the loss of a teammate yesterday,” RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk says.

It is believed to be the first time in BC search and rescue history that a volunteer has been killed in the line of duty.

“The RCMP and communities across BC offer their sincerest condolences to her family and coworkers,” Moskaluk added.

Searchers are now continuing with their original task of confirming whether anyone was inside a submerged vehicle. Two local tow trucks are helping pull it out of the river after technicians worked at securing it.

RCMP and search and rescue personnel were called to the bridge on Highway 21 south of Creston late  Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier in the week, Creston RCMP Staff Sgt. Bob Gollan announced that Lana Leia Sundby Chipesia, 23, was missing and last seen at a local pub at 11 p.m. on June 18. She was driving a white Pontiac Sunfire.

Swift water line equipment and a swift watercraft were deployed and, in an attempt to attach a tow chain to the submerged vehicle, Sweatman went overboard into the river and did not surface.

Police have been unable to confirm if the vehicle matches the description of Chipesia’s car.

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