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RCMP did not retrieve body of missing boater, YKDFN chief says

The body of the missing boater was found in Wool Bay, about 14 kilometres south of Dettah. Google Images screengrab

The body of a missing boater was found and recovered by local residents and not the RCMP, according to Dettah Yellowknives Dene First Nation Chief Ed Sangris.

A deceased man and his boat were retrieved last Thursday near Wool Bay in Great Slave Lake. An RCMP report suggested that its officers and the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA) found the body and brought it back to shore.

RELATED REPORTING: Body of missing boater recovered from Great Slave Lake

But the YKDFN chief disputes that.

“Three guys went out there from Dettah,” said the chief, who declined the name the trio.

“The RCMP didn't go out there with a helicopter. Search and rescue didn't go out there. A man who was staying near Wool Bay found the boat floating on the edge of the ice but no one was in it. The boat hadn't capsized,” contrary to what the RCMP report said, Sangris added.

“(The man) phoned me and three guys went out there and found the boat and then the body. They brought the body back to Dettah and then the RCMP and coroner took over,” Sangris explained.

CASARA confirmed Sangris' account of the incident.

“We had nothing to do with the recovery or anything like that,” said CASARA search coordinator Dave Taylor. “It was generous to say we were involved at all. The incident occurred (on Thursday). They called us, we were getting ready to go and then he was found so it was called off.”

RCMP acknowledged in an email to NNSL Media that not all details of the incident were available when the news release was sent out last week.

"We reported a capsized boat. While the boat may have been afloat, the important fact is that the person was not in the boat. We did not have details of how many persons may have been in the community search boat, just that the same boater reported finding the deceased a short while later," said RCMP spokesperson Marie York-Condon.

"The RCMP attended the last known location via helicopter. CASARA was mobilized and stood down when the deceased was located. Persons may not have been aware the members were investigating and had travelled to the area.

"We said the deceased was transported back to Dettah, where the NWT Coroner Services received the deceased.  We acknowledge community members made the decision to transport the deceased to Dettah," York-Condon said. "We thanked the community members of Dettah for their contributions with the search and recovery effort."

A coroner examination is ongoing, but results would not be known for a few months, said Coroner Services chief Cathy Menard.