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Boat recovery underway one week after B.C. man presumed drowned

Travis Van Hill has not resurfaced, family frustrated over time it has taken for recovery
Travis Van Hill and his boat remain in Okanagan Lake one week after a storm capsized the vessel near Vernon. (GoFundMe photos)

Travis Van Hill’s family has been waiting for a full week now for the wreckage of his boat to be pulled from the lake.

The commercial fishing boat captain went down with his vessel Monday, July 24 during a storm on Okanagan Lake.

His body has yet to be located or resurface.

Red tape and paperwork have prevented anyone from retrieving him or his boat, according to Travis’ family.

“His body will be decomposed and won’t look like my handsome husband,” wife Kim Van Hill said.

But today, Monday, July 31, appears to be the day that action may finally take place.

WorkSafe BC confirms that recovery work is starting today.

“First and foremost, we can only imagine how difficult this situation must be for the family and friends of the missing captain,” said Yesenia Dhott, WorkSafe media relations officer.

“We are working with the employer and stakeholders to ensure the safety of everyone involved.”

A GoFundMe has also been started in memory of Travis.

“Efforts for search, rescue, and recovery have been slow and hindered by WorkSafe BC causing frustration for family and friends,” said son Lucas Pool, who started the fundraiser. “He passed doing what he loved, and was known all around the community as a glowing soul always there to help anybody in need, always putting others before himself.”

Travis is survived by his wife and four children.

A memorial is also planned to be setup at Paddlewheel Park.

Despite the tragedy, the Van Hill family has seen tremendous support from the community, including a local dealership.

Kim had Travis’ truck towed to Dodge as they key is with her husband in the lake.

“Vernon Dodge re-keyed and programmed Travis’ truck and fixed the fuel pump and gifted the charge,” Kim said, grateful for the generosity.

The body of 26-year old Eli Buruca has not been recovered from Kalamalka Lake, where he was kayaking during the same July 24 storm.

READ MORE: Frustration grows as captain still missing, boat still submerged in Okanagan Lake

READ MORE: Vernon RCMP identify missing kayaker, presumed to have drowned


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Jennifer Smith

About the Author: Jennifer Smith

20-year-Morning Star veteran
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