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Search continues for man swept over Athabasca Falls

A 911 call from the man’s hiking companion shortly after the event, resulted in a large scale search with a helicopter, search dogs, ground crews, jet skis and inflatable kayaks.

“We searched until dark that evening.

“The first couple of hours after an event like that, of course, we’re hoping that he’s gone through the canyon and come out alive on the other side, so that’s why the high intensity searching happens that night,” said Blake.

“Once you don’t find somebody, in an incident like a fall into Athabasca Falls, the next day we sort of switch into more of a recovery notion, but we also had the jet skis and the helicopter and our inflatable kayaks with swimmers searching all day Friday.”

The search continued throughout the weekend and early week, but so far there have been no clues as to what happened to the man.

The search will continue, if not every day, every second day, said Blake, who noted that fluctuating water levels are often helpful in producing clues.

On Friday, Parks Canada will borrow a helicopter from the RCMP to do another aerial search of both the river and Amethyst Lake, where Parks has been trying to locate another man who drowned Aug. 19.

The man, in his 30s, was swimming across the 1.3-kilometre lake when he disappeared. He was last seen by friends “swimming strongly,” said Blake, who speculates that the man’s drowning was likely caused by the temperature of the water, which can quickly cause a drop in body temperature.

The search for the man in Amethyst Lake will continue “opportunistically, as our helicopter availability and the weather permits, until freeze up,” he said.

The incident at Athabasca Falls marked the third water related death in the park this summer. The first was the drowning of a 50-year-old man at Pyramid Lake. His body was recovered later that day by divers with the Jasper Volunteer Fire Department.  

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