A deceased individual located Friday in open water near Lutsel K’e has been identified as Samuel Boucher, 65, one of three travellers reported missing en route to the community early last week, Yellowknife RCMP have confirmed.
Boucher, along with twenty-three-year-old Cammy Boucher – reported to be his daughter – and a man police now believed to be Jake Gully, 28, of Fort Good Hope, departed across Great Slave Lake from Dettah on May 13 around 10:30 p.m. headed to Lutsel K’e, according to RCMP.
Police say they gathered evidence that has led them to believe the two other missing travellers “may have suffered the same fate as Samuel Boucher,” according to a news release issued late Tuesday afternoon.
But Cammy Boucher and Gully remain the subjects of an open missing persons investigation, and RCMP will continue to “survey the area of Etthen Island for any sign of the missing persons.”
“We are so very sorry for their loss, and for those families still waiting word on their loved one,” stated Insp. Alex Laporte, officer in command at the Yellowknife RCMP detachment.
“We will continue to survey the area on a regular basis and will make every effort to reunite them with their loved ones,” stated Laporte in Tuesday’s news release.
Mounties suspended a far-reaching four-day search and rescue operation, launched on May 14, the same day the trio was reported overdue to police, on Saturday following the discovery of Samuel Boucher’s body.
RCMP stated they’d exhausted “all viable search options,” in the search for the group of missing travellers.
On May 16, during the third day of an extensive aerial search – limited to the skies due to rapidly changing ice conditions that made ground searches too dangerous – a helicopter operated by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC), which joined the search effort alongside the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA), located an “area of interest” on Great Slave Lake.
Debris was spotted near a “large body of open water,” stated RCMP.
The location was revisited by the JRCC Griffon helicopter the following day, May 17, when RCMP members aboard spotted the deceased person – now identified as Samuel Boucher – in the water.
“After an inventory of equipment and skilled specialists available, a thorough risk analysis of all factors, and favourable conditions prevailing, RCMP dispatched a crew on board a helicopter,” Monday morning, stated police.
RCMP officers and a Department of Fisheries and Oceans official were able to land and retrieve the body from the water. Some debris was also recovered.
The helicopter then scanned the area for possible sightings of the two other missing travellers, but the searches again proved unfruitful and no further debris was spotted.
The NWT Coroner Service took possession of Samuel Boucher’s body on Monday afternoon.
That evening, NWT Coroner Service confirmed the identification of the deceased person as Boucher.
“RCMP stayed in constant communication with the families of the missing persons, including the plans for recovery of the deceased and the identification of Samuel Boucher,” states Tuesday’s news release.
Police continue to urge anyone with any information on the whereabouts of two travellers in the days leading up to May 13, when they departed Dettah, to contact their local RCMP detachment.
Initially covering an area of around 7,200 square kilometres, the search for the missing travellers – believed to have left Dettah on a snowmobile, with two toboggans in tow – expanded to stretch across nearly all of Great Slave Lake following a search of its western shore on May 17.
RCMP estimate the aircraft deployed during the days-long search operation covered more than 20,000 plus kilometres in total. Some areas were scanned from the sky multiple times by both airplanes and helicopters.
“We can’t thank our partners enough. The countless hours, efforts and expertise of CASARA were invaluable in our search,” stated staff Sgt. Yannick Hamel of the Yellowknife RCMP in a news release issued over the weekend.