Officials have confirmed that the body of the third man missing in the Sooke area was discovered Tuesday.
Police and the BC Coroners Service said the body of an adult man was found near Sooke River Road Tuesday afternoon. Investigators believe the body is of a man reported missing from Sooke last week.
“Our thoughts are with the families of all three of the victims and all those who have been and are impacted by this terribly tragic event,” Sgt. Brett Sinden of the Sooke RCMP said in a statement. “We would like to thank all the volunteers who have assisted in the search over the course of the last few days.”
Kathryn Farr from Juan de Fuca Search and Rescue said it was AJ Jensen’s body that was found a bit downstream from where his friends were located Sunday. With water levels dropping Tuesday, it allowed searchers to look through areas they likely wouldn’t have seen before.
“It’s a sense of relief because now we’ve brought some closure,” Kathryn Farr from Juan de Fuca Search and Rescue said. “We were quite relieved we could help out and let family continue the grieving process.”
Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and AJ Jensen, all 20-years-old, went missing on Friday night after they left an Otter Point Road home in a Dodge pickup truck.
When they weren’t seen Saturday morning, the family began searching 4X4 spots the men were known to frequent.
The blue Dodge Dakota the men were travelling in was found in the 3000-block of Sooke River Road near the Sooke Potholes Provincial Park on Sunday evening.
The bodies of Mills and Blackmore were also found Sunday night down by the Sooke River, according to friends.
A bylaw officer had seen a bumper from a vehicle, which had narrowed the search. An RCMP underwater recovery team was brought in on Monday but nothing was found.
Jensen’s body was then found Tuesday by searchers, not the underwater recovery team.
“Our focus is now on the family, trying to provide them with answers. For us, a whole gamut of emotions, for the searchers, no doubt it’s extremely difficult for all of us but it probably pales in comparison to what the family is going through right now,” Cpl. Joe Holmes with Sooke RCMP.
Foul play is not suspected in the deaths. The investigation has been turned over to the BC Coroners Service. RCMP said due to the privacy of the deceased, they or the BC Coroners Service will not be confirming or releasing any identities.
Investigators say the massive rainfall that hit the area is being looked at as a factor in the crash. It is believed the three men went out to the potholes to look at the rising water levels during Friday’s record-breaking rainfall.
Water knocked over trees and left large logs in the lower Sooke Potholes parking lot. The area is known as a spot for puddle hopping when drivers take their cars through pools of water.
“Just three young men out doing what they do in Sooke, going up to the potholes, looks like they’ve been swept away and it’s absolutely terrible,” Juan de Fuca Electoral Area Director Mike Hicks said.
“It’s terrible. It’s really close to home and it will last probably forever.”
The Sooke School District has offered their condolences to the families and friends of the three men. All three graduated from Edward Milne Community School.
“This is a tragic loss and horrific event for the families to have to endure. We are supporting students and staff impacted by this loss by ensuring counselling support is available in our schools. Our thoughts are with those who are struggling at this time,” the school district said in a statement.
A GoFundMe has been set up to support the families of the three men.