Sunshine Coast RCMP have located the body of a man who went missing in 2019.
Then 26 years old, Thomas Hines was believed to have drowned while canoeing on Waugh Lake in Egmont. Hines was originally from Nova Scotia and reported missing in June 2019.
Police searched the lake for Hines with Sunshine Coast Search and Rescue to no avail, by helicopter and dive team.
It was suggested to police that they consider bringing in experts Gene and Sandy Ralston from Boise, Idaho, to help in the search. They are a couple renowned for volunteering to help in underwater search and rescue.
Only once border restrictions were lifted in April could they bring the Ralstons to Canada. They came up in an RV with a sonar-equipped boat.
“The Ralstons, who are both in their 70s, are methodical and painstaking in their search for bodies,” say RCMP in a statement. “After RCMP briefed them on the file and police actions at the time Hines went missing, the Ralstons surveyed the area and on April 4th, craned their boat onto Waugh Lake to begin the work.”
The Ralstons found Hines within 90 minutes and police retrieved him. Dental records confirmed it was Hines.
“The Ralstons towed their sonar back and forth through the water in slow, overlapping strips,”say RCMP. “Within 90 minutes, they spotted something on the lake bottom that they believed could be Hines. The Ralstons then deployed their submersible remote operated underwater vehicle and confirmed it was a human body.”
Constable Cole Vander Helm says the Ralstons were instrumental in bringing some closure to the case.
“I am relieved that with the help of the Ralstons, we were able to bring some peace and closure to Tom’s family and friends,” says Vander Helm. “Tom’s parents were very thankful for everyone who assisted in locating their son.”