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Vernon RCMP identify missing kayaker, presumed to have drowned

Eli Buruca, 26, has been missing from Kalamalka Lake since Monday
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The Vernon North Okanagan RCMP has identified the kayaker that went missing on Kalamalka Lake during a storm on Monday, July 24, 2023, as Eli Buruca. (Submitted photo)

Police have identified the man who went missing while kayaking on Kalamalka Lake when a storm hit Monday, July 24, and are presuming that the man drowned.

The Vernon North Okanagan RCMP say the missing kayaker is 26-year-old Eli Buruca.

Police received a report of the missing kayaker around 11 p.m. Monday. Vernon Search and Rescue (VSAR) and the RCMP initiated a search on the lake, however, the person now known to be Buruca was not found.

Police say there is no indication that Buruca made it to shore, and he is presumed to have drowned.

An extensive search involving boats, a drone, and RCMP divers has continued for several days on both the shoreline and the water at the north end of Kalamalka Lake, without success.

Police say the search has been scaled back, but VSAR will continue to search the lake at various times over the next several days.

“The family has been involved from the outset and this sombre reality has been discussed with them,” said Const. Chris Terleski, media relations officer for the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP, in a press release. “This remains a missing person investigation which will continue until the person is found. At the outset, we’re always hopeful for a favourable outcome and despite the best efforts of everyone involved, their loved one is still missing and our hearts go out them.”

Buruca wasn’t the only person who went missing on the water during Monday’s storm. Travis Van Hill was captaining a shrimp boat on Okanagan Lake when the boat capsized. Van Hill has not been found since the incident, and the boat has yet to be retrieved from the water as of Thursday afternoon.

READ MORE: Frustration grows as captain still missing, boat still submerged in Okanagan Lake

READ MORE: Kayaker and boat captain still missing on Vernon lakes


Brendan Shykora
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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started at the Morning Star as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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