Authorities say a search for three missing hikers at Shannon Falls that began yesterday has turned into a recovery operation.
In a release, Squamish RCMP said the trio was hiking with a group of friends and were swimming in one of the pools at the top of the falls when they slipped and fell into a pool 30 metres below.
"We were called ... around noon for three people who went into the river just above Shannon Falls ...," search and rescue co-ordinator Landon James told the Squamish Chief on Tuesday, July 3.
After immediately launching an extensive search that continued throughout the afternoon, Squamish Search and Rescue (SAR) and Squamish RCMP arrived on scene Wednesday, July 4 morning to consider how to recover their bodies safely.
"SAR teams, multiple Helicopter Units, and RCMP have been working in all capacities to locate the three people," stated RCMP Cpl. Sascha Banks in a release.
The teams were able to confirm the location of the three people in one of the lower pools around 8:30 p.m., according to the statement. However, "extremely difficult, very dangerous" terrain will complicate the recovery efforts from the pool. "And the water flow will be heavy with the warm temperatures today, increasing the risk to those in the recovery effort," stated Banks in the release.
On scene July 3, the parking lot of the provincial park was filled with emergency services personnel. Alongside Squamish SAR, Lions Bay SAR, North Shore SAR, BC Ambulance, Squamish Fire, BC Parks, and Squamish RCMP all attended to assist in coordinating the search efforts.*
Search efforts included helicopter surveys of the area, as well as rope-rescue searches around the falls, said James.
James told the Chief the water in the pools is extremely cold and the current varies by time of day. Despite the risk, Upper Shannon Falls Hiking Trail is a popular route to the pools and viewing area for the top half of the falls.
"I haven't seen the pools myself very closely, but they are a series of step pools that then turn into the falls," said James.
He added SAR also reviewed footage from a bystander who captured drone images from the area.
Media outlets including the CBC, quoting a SAR spokesperson, are reporting witness accounts that said a young woman was standing at the edge of the water at the top of the falls when she slipped and fell. Her boyfriend and another friend jumped in to try and save her, before slipping over the edge and out of view.
RCMP said they will not be releasing the names at this time.
*Please note that this story has been corrected since it was first posted. The first article incorrectly stated that TEAAM was on the scene, that organization was not.