RCMP scaling back water search for missing fishermen on Great Slave Lake

A GoFundMe page has been set up for the family of missing Hay River fisherman Stacy (Photo courtesy of GoFundMe)

Hay River RCMP Monday said that they are scaling back the active marine search for the four missing commercial fishermen on Great Slave Lake.

Police say after searching for them for a week, there is just no sign of them.

“Deteriorating weather conditions have combined to wind down the effort,” police stated in a news release Monday. “Community volunteers are continuing to organize further ground searches. On Sunday, October 6th, four members of the RCMP Underwater Dive Team from Vancouver and crews from the Canadian Coast Guard, the Hay River Marine Rescue Unit of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans travelled to the site of the submerged vessel, in the Windy Bay area, on Great Slave Lake.”

Policer say the divers inspected the vessel for any signs of the missing fishermen.

The search concluded the fishermen were not in the boat, or in the immediate vicinity, police stated.

RCMP state that the vessel was brought to the surface of the lake but the “anchor points could not resist the wave action and the vessel sunk back down to the bottom of the lake.”

The four fishermen left the commercial dock in Hay River in the morning of Sunday, September 29th.

The crew was travelling to Sulphur Point to check on fishing nets and were scheduled to return in the evening.

The group was travelling aboard a 33-foot aluminum hull boat, equipped with a pilot house, two engines, VHF radio, life jackets and fishing equipment, police state.

On October 1st, an object was spotted by an aircraft in the area of Windy Bay, which later was confirmed to be the vessel of the missing fishermen.

Three debris fields were located in proximity of the vessel, with fishing equipment recovered from these locations.

On October 2nd, the search continued with a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) to examine the partially submerged fishing vessel.

The inspection of the boat udid not show any structural damage and no persons were observed inside the pilot house.

“The efforts of the latest inspection of the vessel, by the Underwater Dive Team, the partner agencies, and the continued air and marine searches, have not yielded the location of the missing fishermen,” police stated.  “Under the circumstances and with the challenging conditions, a decision was made by RCMP to scale back the marine search, with the families notified of this change. The decision included forecasts of deteriorating weather conditions predicting strong winds, rain and potentially snow in the coming days.”

RCMP say a further aerial search could be scheduled in the coming weeks using aircraft to inspect the western and the southern shorelines.

Community volunteers have been rallying in the last few days to organize ground searches of the south shore and are planning to continue searching – weather permitting.

RCMP wish to remind community volunteers to use extreme caution and plan ahead if venturing out on the land or water as the weather conditions may become hazardous and unpredictable.

Should anyone have any information, or see anything that could be related to the missing persons, RCMP request they bring the information to their local detachment.

If further evidence comes to light, lifting the marine search suspension may be re-evaluated.

“We are extremely grateful to our partner agencies in their courageous efforts to locate these missing men, assisting us in many ways. We are also thankful to the citizens of Hay River, in supporting the families that came up to be closer during the search efforts.  Our thoughts are with the families at this time,” states  Sgt. Brandon Humbke of the Hay River Detachment.

One of the fishermen is a local while the other three are from Slave Lake, Alberta

Meanwhile a GoFundMe page has now been set up for the family of the captain of the boat Stacy Linington from Hay River.

It has a goal of $5,000.

Just search his name on the GoFundMe website.


About the Author

John McFadden
John has been in the broadcast journalism industry since the 1980s. He has been a reporter in Yellowknife since 2012 and joined CKLB in January of 2018. John covers the crime and court beat as well as reporting on other areas including politics, business, entertainment and sports. He won seven national community newspaper awards while he was a journalist with Northern News Services Limited (NNSL). John worked in Ontario before coming North including stints as a TV sportscaster in Peterborough and senior news writer for CBC and CTV in downtown Toronto.