The family of a kayaker who went missing on an Okanagan lake during a sudden storm two weeks ago is bracing for a bitter discovery.
Nidia Buruca Majano, the sister of Eli Buruca who’s presumed drowned, was on Kalamalaka Lake Monday searching the depths of the lake, with help from Gene and Sandy Ralston, an American couple who specializes in recovering bodies from the deep with their specialized sonar equipment.
They’re retracing where Buruca, 26, had been paddling with a group of friends on Kalamalka Lake near Vernon when an intense storm rolled in. While the rest of his companions made it back to shore, he did not. The search carried on for days before officials confirmed that Buruca was presumed dead.
“We started pretty early this morning and we’ve covered the area where they were last seen together, near the trail, and the shore, and we’ve been working our way out to the middle of the lake” Majano said Monday.
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The sonar the Ralstons use runs deep within the water, pulling up images from below. What they were seeing Monday morning was the bottom of the lake, where there were grooves, ridges smoother areas, and sandy lake bottom.
There are also objects showing up and, according to Gene Ralston, that may be how her brother’s remains show up.
Being a passenger on the boat searching for her brother’s body is something that Majano can’t help but feel both nervous and scared about.
“I think it really makes the whole situation a reality, knowing that we now have the technology to be able to find him,” she said.
“So although it’s what we wanted, that closure, I also find it very difficult that that moment is approaching…. but we would like for him to be found. So it’s a weirdly bittersweet moment.”
Gene Ralston showed Majano an example of what someone typically looks like at the bottom of the lake and she’s now watching the screen that’s showing images from the beneath the water’s surface with him.
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“I think when it comes up that’ll be like the hardest moment, I think,” she said. “And bringing him up to the surface and all that process.”
Their time, however, is volunteered, so money is being raised to cover their basic costs.
The fundraiser will also be used to assist the family in taking Burica back to El Salvador to be buried alongside his brother.
Majano has asked that those who are out and about around the lake help, as well.
“If there’s anyone who has some time (and) happens to be out on the lake, if you’re walking on the trail on either side, if you’re kayaking or if you’re on a boat, if you could just keep your eyes open in case he has come up,” she said.
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