A police helicopter circles above search boats looking for the body of a 24-year-old Surrey man who drowned Sunday evening as children play at a beach access north of Gyro Beach on Monday.
The pilot was hovering 40 metres above Okanagan Lake in the RCMP's Air-3 chopper when he spotted two submerged objects in the water at 11:30 a.m. Monday. He directed search boats to the first object, which turned out to be a pizza box.
The second was the 24-year-old's body, dressed in a bathing suit and resting on the lake bottom three metres below surface. A search volunteer slipped into the lake and recovered him.
"The sun was in a perfect position," said Duane Tresnich, vice president of Central Okanagan Search and Rescue. "When you're flying over, you have a clear view."
The man and his girlfriend were on vacation and had rented a motorboat from a marina near Cook Road on Sunday. They headed north and stopped off the Watt Road area just north of Gyro Beach.
The couple went for a swim. Police say the man had trouble staying afloat while swimming to the boat about 6:40 p.m. A fire official said he had a shoulder injury and was unable to get back on board.
His girlfriend, also from Surrey, tried to help him but had to let him go because he was pulling her under as the boat drifted away. Neither swimmer wore a life jacket.
A man on shore noticed the woman appeared to be in distress. He drove out to rescue her in a jet ski but failed to find her boyfriend.
Firefighters and a search crew launched their boats but were unable to locate the missing man before sunset. On Monday, searchers from Kelowna and Vernon set off at 9 a.m. in three boats equipped with side-scan sonar that detects objects underwater.
They made long sweeps parallel to shore for more than two hours before the helicopter arrived. The pilot spotted the Surrey man about 200 metres from shore.
Once his body was lifted onto the Vernon pontoon boat, an RCMP boat steered toward shore and docked at a private dock where several people had gathered.
A woman comforted another woman by rubbing her back as the boat approached. An officer got out and told them the man was dead.
The Vernon crew transported the body to Shelter Bay Marina on the Westside, where a coroner met them.
The coroner's office was withholding the victim's name. Tresnich said the recovery was strange.
"Growing up here, you know how shallow the water is. You'd figure we would have seen him (Sunday) night. It didn't turn out that way, we found him (the next) morning."