Members of the Parksville Qualicum Beach community are mourning the loss of 17-year-old Lukas Whibley, who died Friday afternoon after a tragic accident at the Little Qualicum Falls Regional Park.
The teen and his friends were said to have been jumping off rocks at the upper falls into a pool in the river at around 2 p.m. The teens became stuck and Whibley reportedly started climbing a steep rock face, when he fell and hit the rocks below and was carried into a waterfall.
Shortly after, Oceanside RCMP, Arrowsmith Search and Rescue, and BC Ambulance Service Paramedics arrived at the scene.
Search and Rescue spokesperson Ken Neden said his team arrived to find three teenagers clinging to a ledge.
“They were just above the upper falls,” Neden said. “They couldn’t get out but they were safe where they were and in no imminent danger.”
The ASAR team lowered a member to the trapped teens and raised them to safety one by one.
“Then we went to search for the one who was missing,” Neden said. “Our water team was snorkeling at the base of the falls and they could see him in about 15 feet of water.”
The team lowered the RCMP dive team to the site and the body was recovered at around 9 p.m.
RCMP Victim Services were on scene and are available free of charge to anyone impacted by this event. To request assistance, call the Oceanside Detachment at 250-248-6111.
The case has now been handed over to the BC Coroners Service.
Neden said the tragedy brings home the danger of both the site in particular and water in general.
“We all did things and made bad decisions when we were younger and this was a mistake,” he said. “People go over the fence and jump into these pools because it seems refreshing and fun, but you have to watch out for these hazards because it just takes one little slip and you don’t get a second chance.”
Despite the tragedy, Neden said he was pleased with how well SAR, Coombs-Hilliers and Dashwood Fire, EHS, RCMP and RCMP dive team all worked together. Everyone was very professional in doing their tasks and helping other groups out as necessary.
— With files from Lissa Alexander