The search for man who drowned Friday while swimming in Golden Ears Provincial Park east of Maple Ridge has been suspended until conditions improve.
The man and a friend were swimming in Gold Creek when they were swept away by a strong current around 2:30 p.m.
“They were with a group of friends and the friends actually saw them go down,” said Sgt. Dale Somerville with Ridge Meadows RCMP.
The 19-year-old from Delta was spotted by a RCMP helicopter downstream.
Swift water rescuers from the Maple Ridge Fire Department and Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue reached his body around 4:20 p.m., two kilometres from the falls.
Crews continued to search for the second man – a 21-year-old from Surrey – but called of the search Saturday because the water was too dangerous.
Teams of volunteers from Maple Ridge, Mission and Coquitlam spent Saturday searching along the banks of Gold Creek.
Friends of the man also joined in but stayed on the trails, away from the water.
“After completing the search of the creek and finding nothing, we feel fairly certain that he is probably still trapped at the base of the falls,” said Rick Laing, with Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue.
“It’s just too dangerous to put anybody in the water.”
The location where the men drowned in Golden Ears Provincial Park is a treacherous one, especially during times of high water. Warm temperatures have melted snow from the peaks above, making streams run fast.
Laing cautiouns swimmers to be extra careful in local rivers and streams because of the early spring melt.
“The top of the falls is not the place to go swimming,” said Laing, noting there is a fence and signs warning people not to enter the water.
“It is way too dangerous. When we were up there Saturday, there were people swimming up at the top of the falls where these two guys had fallen in. People just don’t seem to heed the signs.”
Rescue crews have been to the location before, Laing added. “We’ve done several body recoveries out of there.”
Police tried to put an underwater camera into the creek to find the man but were unable to because the swift currents.
Rescuers don’t known when the search will resume.
“Parks is going to keep an eye on the level of the water and they will advise the RCMP when the water level goes down,” Laing added.
On Saturday, as search crews returned to base, they received another call to rescue three people who fell off a raft while floating down Gold Creek.
All three made it to shore safely.