School teacher John Keeley, pictured here in 2001. (VSS Yearbook image)

RCMP assist coroner in investigation of body near Lumby

Vernon Search and Rescue located body near south end of Mabel Lake up steep embankment

The Vernon North Okanagan RCMP are now supporting the BC Coroners Service in an investigation into the body that was found Friday night.

Vernon Search and Rescue were conducting patrols of Mabel Lake as part of the ongoing coordinated search for a missing kayaker, John Keeley, who was reported missing on July 18, 2018. During the meticulous search of the area, members of Vernon SAR ultimately located the deceased in a steep embankment from the water’s edge.

“The ground search and recovery of the body was very difficult due to the hazardous terrain and dense foliage, requiring both teamwork and technical rope gear,” said Vernon Search and Rescue Director Trevor Honigman.

The death is not believed to be suspicious.

The B.C. Coroners Service, now in charge of the file, is working to officially determine the identity of the decedent, however has confirmed the remains match those of a male in his 50’s.

Keeley, a Vernon Secondary School teacher, has been missing for more than a week and search efforts have concentrated on the Lumby end of Mabel Lake after the teacher’s kayak was found abandoned on the lake and his vehicle was found locked at a lake parking lot.

“This breaks my heart. His poor family. He was such an amazing teacher/coach,” said Karla Balardo, a VSS graduate, on Facebook. “I looked up to him and he taught me SOOO much! Amazing guy that I will never forget! May you RIP Mr. Keeley.”

Keeley was a math teacher as well as a basketball coach.

Balardo, a 2003 graduate, says he will be sorely missed.

“He was so great.”

RELATED: Search escalates for missing school teacher

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