Update 8:30 a.m. Aug. 1:
The Edmonton Public School System has identified one of their employees as the victim of a fatal fall from the edge of the gorge above the Sicamous Creek Falls.
A statement from the school system mourns the loss of Dave Kowalchuk; he is listed as the principal of Caernarvon Elementary School on the school’s website.
“Our thoughts and condolences go out to the family of Dave Kowalchuk as they work through this terrible tragedy,” the statement from Superintendent Darrel Robertson reads.
“Dave will be remembered by all of us at Edmonton Public Schools as a passionate educator and leader who brought a love of learning to school each and every day. He will be deeply missed by every student and staff member who had the pleasure to work alongside him.”
A 53-year-old Alberta man is dead after falling from the edge of the gorge near the Sicamous Creek Falls.
Sgt. Murray McNeil of the Sicamous RCMP said the man, a Sherwood Park resident, was hiking with a family member shortly before noon on July 29 when he fell into the gorge below. McNeil said the RCMP’s investigation indicates the man left the marked trail to get closer to the edge.
Shuswap Search and Rescue assisted with the recovery of the man’s body.
“Due to the rough terrain and the narrow trails, the body had to be removed with the long lines and the expertise of the Search and Rescue people,” McNeil said.
The Sicamous Fire Department and the Eagle Valley Rescue Society unit assisted with the rescue. The Coroner’s service was also on the scene.
The death of the Alberta man marks the second time in three months that someone has suffered a fatal fall from the area above the waterfall. On May 15 a 27-year-old man fell from the cliff above the falls.
“This is the second occurrence in a year so we’d like to remind everyone to remain on the marked trail and, of course, there is significant danger when approaching the cliff side when off trail at that location,” McNeil said.
John Schut, a search manager for the Shuswap Search and Rescue, said the July 29 incident occurred very close to where the man fell in May. Schut said the area where the man fell from has sandy soil which can easily cause a loss of footing, and only widely-spaced trees to stop someone from tumbling over the cliff edge.
Schut said in both incidents, the victims were recovered by Search and Rescue volunteers using long lines anchored at the top of the canyon. He said there is a trail at the bottom of the canyon but it is too narrow for a safe recovery.
The Shuswap Trail Alliance posted to their Facebook page to notify the public that the switchback trail from the parking lot up to the Lizard mountain bike route is closed until further notice. The closure is on the authority of the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) who advise users of all its trail systems to exercise caution and stick to marked routes when hiking.
The Sicamous RCMP are asking anyone who was in the area at the time of the Alberta man’s July 29 fall to come forward with any information they might have. The Sicamous detachment can be reached at 250-836-2878.