'He would never have given up on anybody': Family, friends organize search for Abbotsford man on Fraser River
VANCOUVER -- Ever since Karyssa Mclean and her fiancée Damian Dutrisac got engaged last fall, they’ve been planning their upcoming wedding, and their future together.
“One of the last messages he ever sent to me was telling me how excited he was to get married,” she said. “It doesn’t seem real to have your whole life planned out like this, and for it just to be taken away so quick.”
Mclean is now praying for Dutrisac to come home, after the boat he was out fishing in went under the water last Friday on the Fraser River, near the mouth of the Sumas River in Chilliwack.
“He would have never given up on anybody, if this happened to anybody he knew,” she said. “He didn’t deserve this.”
The 29-year-old had gone fishing with his friend on the afternoon of May 7, when the anchor became stuck.
“Whatever happened, it made the boat go under, and neither of them had life jackets, for some stupid reason,” Mclean said. “They went to go grab life jackets and Andrew looked back, and Damian was swimming towards him to save him and he looked back, and he was just gone. Just like that.”
Dutrisac’s friend managed to get out of the river, and Cpl. Mike Rail with the Chilliwack RCMP said police were called when he was discovered by someone else out on the water.
“The man who made it to shore...was on the river bank for approximately an hour, an hour and a half before a passing boater rescued him,” Rais said. “The Chilliwack RCMP, supported by Abbotsford Police Department, search and rescue teams from Chilliwack, from Mission, the Lower Mainland District Integrated Police Dog Section, and (RCMP helicopter) Air 5 all immediately responded.”
Rail said the water and shoreline were searched, but the effort had to be called off on Friday.
“The river is high, seasonally high,” he said, and added the water is also fast-moving. “The water conditions on the river are preventing further search from taking place.”
Mclean said friends and others who want to help have not stopped looking since Dutrisac’s disappearance, and another search is planned for Wednesday.
“They’re going have 15 to 20 boats launching at the Barrowtown pump station boat launch around 8 a.m.,” she said, and added boats will also be launching for the search from Langley and Ladner. “I’m so appreciative of everybody that’s out there and I just want to say be careful.”
Rail said they also want to remind people to take precautions on the river, including wearing a personal flotation device, and being aware of cold water immersion, which can have fatal consequences. He could not say at this point if another official search effort may resume.
“That’s a decision that would be made in the future,” he said. “Again, it would be according to weather and river conditions.”
Maclean said her partner of three years is the “most loving person” and the strongest guy she’s ever known.
“It doesn’t seem fair or real,” she said. “Just praying so bad that he’s out there safe, holding on to something and not letting go"
An online fundraiser has also been set up to offer support, and request help with the search.