RCMP Sunshine Coast, with the help of two dedicated volunteers, have closed the file on Thomas Hines, a then-26-year-old originally from Nova Scotia reported missing in June 2019. Hines was believed to have drowned while canoeing on Waugh Lake in Egmont, BC.
At the time, RCMP had exhausted all available avenues, including an aerial search of the lake by helicopter, the interior by the RCMP dive team, and the shore and forested area beyond by Sunshine Coast Search and Rescue, with negative results.
Mike Clement, of SAVI Marine, who assisted police at the outset, was the one to suggest RCMP consider enlisting the services of Gene and Sandy Ralston, a couple renowned for donating their time and expertise as underwater search and recovery specialists.
Impressed by their success in similar cases, Constable Cole Vander Helm, who had been involved in the original investigation, reached out to the Ralstons to request their help. And in early April of this year, after border restrictions were lifted, the Ralstons drove their RV and trailered sonar-equipped boat from Boise, Idaho, to the Sunshine Coast for one more attempt to locate Hines.
The Ralstons, who are both in their 70s, are methodical and painstaking in their search for bodies. After RCMP briefed them on the file and police actions at the time Hines went missing, the Ralstons surveyed the area and on April 4th, craned their boat onto Waugh Lake to begin the work. With Constable Vander Helm aboard, the Ralstons towed their sonar back and forth through the water in slow, overlapping strips.
Within 90 minutes, they spotted something on the lake bottom that they believed could be Hines. The Ralstons then deployed their submersible remote operated underwater vehicle (ROUV) and confirmed it was a human body. The RCMP Underwater Dive and Recovery Team (URT), was notified and on April 6th, divers brought Hines, the Ralstons one hundred and twenty-seventh recovery, to the surface.
After utilizing dental records to confirm it was Tom Hines, Cst. Vander Helm contacted the family in Nova Scotia. “I am relieved that with the help of the Ralstons, we were able to bring some peace and closure to Tom’s family and friends” said Cst. Vander Helm. “Tom’s parents were very thankful for everyone who assisted in locating their son”.
On June 18, 2019 Sunshine Coast RCMP were advised that Thomas HINES had not returned from a canoe trip on Waugh Lake in Egmont BC.
HINES had been last seen on June 17th and it wasn’t until his canoe was found on the lake the next day that the police were called.
HINES is described as a 26 year old Caucasian male, short brown hair and brown eyes, clean shaven, 5’8′ with a stocky build, approximately 180 lbs. HINES may have been wearing khaki cargo shorts and a button up black and brown shirt.
It is unknown at this time if HINES is in the lake or on land. HINES family and friends have been notified.
Sunshine Coast Search and Rescue conducted an extensive search of the lake and shoreline and will continue their search on June 20th with assistance from Squamish Search and Rescue and the RCMP Underwater Recovery Team.
Anyone with any information regarding any recent interactions with Thomas HINES is asked to call the Sunshine Coast RCMP at 604-885-2266 (2019-3815 relates).