Ministry of Justice
BC Coroners Service to assess landslide site
KASLO — The BC Coroners Service is confirming that one human body was found by searchers on the afternoon of July 15 at the site of Johnsons Landing mudslide.
The discovery came just hours after the Coroners Service moved to take a key role in the investigation, and the efforts to recover the four persons believed lost following the July 12 slide – Valentine Webber, his daughters Diana and Rachel and German visitor Petra Frehse.
Following advice from the incident command group at the site, the RCMP have made the decision to cease search and rescue and transition to a recovery operation that will be led by the Coroners Service. To actively assist with this phase, chief coroner Lisa Lapointe and disaster management specialist coroner Steve Fonseca travelled to the site of the disaster this afternoon.
The decision for the Coroners Service to become involved came after the unified command structure on site concluded reluctantly that there was no longer any hope that anyone who had been caught in the slide could be found alive. Frehse and the Webber family are believed to have been in the buildings that were in the direct path of the slide; they all remain missing.
The primary job of the Coroners Service on site will be to conduct an assessment to determine the possibility and feasibility of further recovery efforts.
Information gained during the investigation will also allow chief coroner Lapointe to determine as expeditiously as possible whether she should issue a declaration which would legally declare any of the four persons dead as she is entitled to do under the BC Coroners Act.
The Coroners Service will also begin efforts immediately to confirm identification of the body found on Sunday. The body recovered was that of a male.
Until the assessment has been completed, the Coroners Service is not prepared to speculate on what the next steps might be. It also remains unclear just how long the assessment process might take.
Contact for media in Nelson and Kaslo:
BC Coroners Service
Contact for provincial media:
Coroner, Strategic Programs
BC Coroners Service
250 356-9253 or 250 213-5020
Connect with the Province of B.C. at: www.gov.bc.ca/connect