Undiagnosed tumour believed to be cause of South Surrey man’s drowning

Family grateful for international efforts to find answers for what led to Mele's sudden death in U.S. waters .

The family of well-known South Surrey real-estate developer John Mele have been informed that a previously undiagnosed brain tumour was the cause of his sudden death in the U.S. last week.

The 43-year-old, who drowned Aug. 1 while boating on Washington’s Osoyoos Lake, was diagnosed with a posterior fossa intracranial brain tumour following an autopsy, brother-in-law Gary Hawes told Peace Arch News Thursday, noting his family is grateful to authorities on both sides of the border, who took part in the search that led to answers.

According to Hawes, Mele and his family were unaware of the tumour, which was described as a “ticking time bomb” that was big enough to push against the brain stem, likely causing the father of three to black out while in the water.

A celebration of life for the father of three will be held Aug. 20 at 3 p.m., at Peace Portal Alliance Church, 15128 27B Ave.

Mele was well-known in the community for his business endeavors – he and friend Chuck Westgard operated Royal LePage Westgard Realty – and community work, including coaching youth baseball.

The noted family man was on the boat Aug. 1 with his three children, along with longtime friend Darren Mahaffey and his eldest son.

After doing a backflip off the boat into the lake, Mele did not resurface, Hawes said.

Mele’s body was discovered two days later after additional divers and high-tech services were called in to assist the local sheriff’s department.

According to Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers, the international collaborative effort between local and Canadian officials was not completely unprecedented.

“We work well with RCMP on a lot of things, but never a drowning. They sent divers down and their sonar equipment,” he said. “They were a huge help and we are extremely grateful to the RCMP for coming down.”

Hawes said Mele’s loved ones are indebted to the RCMP officers for their willingness to aid in the U.S. investigation.

“They came down with their high-tech sonar gear and found him Sunday evening after only being in the water for about 45 minutes. They found him very quickly,” Hawes said.

“The entire family, all our friends, (owe) just a huge debt to the RCMP. We were so proud and it gave you a patriotic feeling to see your guys come across the border and get the job done and provide the family with a sense of closure.”



Just Posted

‘How do you fly?’: Surrey plays host to quidditch championship

Harry Potter-inspired event is at Hjorth Road Park

Surrey RCMP doesn’t expect big hit in light of projected $10M cut in B.C. budget

Public safety minister says RCMP informed province about projected budget deficit

Surrey’s Sourdif among A-list ‘Players to Watch’ for NHL Entry Draft in Monteal next June

The right-shot forward has eight goals and nine assists with Vancouver Giants this season

‘It felt good’: Milestone cross-country win for Fleetwood Park’s Jaiveer Tiwana

After winning the boys provincial championship, he’ll compete for a national title on Nov. 30

South Surrey man and city settle beef over backyard cow

Asad Syed, who kept a calf on his property last year, met City of Surrey in court Tuesday

VIDEO: B.C. to restrict nicotine content, bring in 20% tax on vaping products

Province will also restrict candy and fruit flavoured vaping products to adult-only stores

Seguin lifts surging Stars to 4-2 win over Canucks

Dallas is 6-0-1 in last seven outings

UPDATE: Metro Vancouver bus drivers to refuse overtime as transit strike escalates

Overtime ban could disrupt 10-15 per cent of bus service in Metro Vancouver

‘City that protects rapists’: Sexual assault survivor slams Kelowna mayor for defending RCMP

Heather Friesen spent the morning handing out flyers around city hall calling out the mayor

South Surrey man and city settle beef over backyard cow

Asad Syed, who kept a calf on his property last year, met City of Surrey in court Tuesday

Batten down the hatches: Wet and windy weekend on the way for coastal B.C.

Environment Canada issues special weather warning for Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island

BC Liquor Stores to move fully to paper bags by March

Vancouver Island to be the first to convert to paper bags in November

B.C. RCMP investigating stolen boots, credit cards, booze, and beauty products

Langley RCMP investigating property crimes, including credit card fraud in Surrey

Tolko shuts B.C. divisions for two weeks over holidays

Head office to close from Dec. 23-27; two weeks’ downtime runs Dec. 21-Jan. 6

Most Read