Police confirmed Saturday morning that Christopher Hannaford was the man who was found dead on Friday afternoon.
Hannaford, 27, was last seen on a gravel bar near Old Orchard Campground on Kennedy Road in Harrison Mills, just east of Agassiz. A body was found on a gravel bar in the same area at about 4 p.m. Friday afternoon.
The deceased’s brother Jonathan waited for about two hours on the riverbank Friday evening, as police, a coroner and Kent Harrison Search and Rescue retrieved a then-unidentified body from a gravel bar not far from the riverside campground.
It was a sombre wait as the sun set, as recreational boaters and fishermen came and went from the boat launch near the Harrison River bridge. Hannaford’s body was brought to shore at about 7:20 p.m., and the brother was given the chance to identify the body aboard the SAR boat.
When the body was brought onto the dock, SAR members, RCMP, Hannaford and his friend all stood silently for a minute or two, before a visibly distraught Hannaford returned to his vehicle.
Hannaford and his friend had just arrived in the area from out of province.
RCMP media liaison Cst. Tracy Wolbeck confirmed with Black Press Saturday morning that the body was indeed Hannaford’s.
“Although this is a very sad ending to a long and involved search, Chris’s family now has the closure they need to move on,” said Cst. Tracy Wolbeck. She confirmed that Hannaford’s brother had arrived from Newfoundland on the day his brother’s body was discovered and was able to assist police in making a positive identification.
The cause of death will not be released until a full coroner’s examination has been completed.
Wolbeck thanked everyone who was involved in the search for Christopher Hannaford.
On Friday, a man had called The Observer’s sister paper, The Chilliwack Progress, at about 4:15 p.m., saying that his brother had found the body. Police say the two brothers had been fishing in the area, not far from where Hannaford is thought to have fallen in the water.
Ironically, the search for Hannaford had been scaled back on Friday, after an RCMP dive team and Air 1 helicopter had not detected any sign of the missing man.
SAR member Neil Brewer said on scene Friday that every conceivable area of the river was searched before the attempts were scaled down, including all gravel bars, log sorts and all the river’s edges.
On Friday, police said they do not believe foul play was involved in Hannaford’s disappearance, but that drinking may have been involved.
Watch this website for further developments in the story.