Terrace Search and Rescue members Duncan Steward, left, and David Redpath, both trained as swiftwater rescue technicians, head out to look for a missing Belgian man on the Stikine River. Photo by Dwayne Sheppard

Terrace Swiftwater rescue team helps search for lost man in Stikine River

Searchers scour area for several days but are unable to locate missing man.

Terrace Search and Rescue Water Rescue Team members assisted in the search for a missing canoeist on the Stikine River but after multiple days of aerial searching, the search was called off.

On Friday August 4 at 8:34 p.m., Terrace Water Rescue Team members were requested by Telegraph RCMP to assist in the search for a missing canoeist Belgian national Stéphane Goossee on the Stikine River.

RCMP said Stéphane Goossee, 25, and a co-worker at a commercial fisheries outlet were in a canoe, which capsized Aug. 3 in the area of Great Glacier Lake near the B.C.-Alaska border. The co-worker managed to swim to shore, but Goossee disappeared in the fast-flowing water.

Three swift water rescue technicians mobilized from Terrace to assist in the search efforts. The team requested the services of Canadian Helicopters for transportation to the search area.

The team conducted searches of back eddies, slack water (slower moving water less than 1.5 knots where a body may settle out of the faster moving water column).

Searches were conducted from the air (via helicopter with right/left spotters and one forward spotter); boat and foot patrol (probing likely areas) searches were also conducted.

The team also went to the Great Glacier Salmon Ltd. Camp, to interview the witness.

Hansa, the other person canoeing with Goossee, said the canoe flipped and both men went into the water at the class 3 rapids just upstream of the confluence of the Stikine and glacial feed stream.

They were able to get to the canoe at this point and were together.

While traveling through the rapids, the two became separated from their boat again; Hansa managed to get to the boat again and was pushed to shore with the canoe.

Hansa reported when he made it to shore that he last saw Stephane midstream in the creek, bobbing in the standing waves, approximately 30 m above the confluence of the two rivers.

Boat occupants were not wearing personal flotation devices (lifejackets).

At the place where Goossee was last seen, the three swiftwater rescue technicians used probe poles to search the slack water area at the confluence of the Great Glacier/ Stikine River using two boats from the camp to transport the team to various locations.

The team conducted foot searches and probing of high probable catchment areas but no clues were found.

On Sunday, August 6, searchers conducted a low flyover of the area from Great Glacier Salmon Ltd. Camp to 5 km downstream.

Due to the fact that the subject was not wearing a life jacket and that survivability in the cold glacial water was minimal, aerial searches were minimized.

The swift water search assignments were focused on high probable areas where a body may settle out of the faster moving water such as gravel bars, beaches, and other slow moving water areas.

The team provided safety support and assisted three camp employees as they conducted two passes with a net over the place last seen – nothing was located during this search method.

At 4 p.m., the team concluded search efforts on the Stikine River.

Terrace Search and Rescue thanks to Telegraph Creek/Dease Lake RCMP, Stikine River Song Lodge, Great Glacier Salmon Ltd and Canadian Helicopters for their assistance with the search effort.