The grief is overwhelming as those who knew and loved the young men who died this weekend in Sooke struggle to deal with their tragic loss.
“They were good kids and they were funny, and 20 years old, isn’t enough time,” said close friend Connor Ingram.
Ingram saw his best friend Eric Blackmore on Friday, just hours before Blackmore and his two friends, Cory Mills and A.J. Jensen, went missing.
“He was going out with his buddies, and I gave him a hug, that was about it and then we got the news on Saturday,” said Ingram.
When the community found out the three were missing, hundreds signed up to join the search. Deryl Townsend’s kids grew up playing hockey with one of the men, so he jumped in to help organize and used his shop, Lit Up Smoke and Vapour, as search headquarters. Then Sunday afternoon came word two bodies had been found on the shores of Sooke River.
“To get the news it’s just absolutely devastating, it’s everyone’s worse fear,” said Townsend.
The pain is being felt across the entire community of Sooke and the surrounding area.
“The results are devastating,” said an emotional Mike Hicks, Capital Regional District Area Director for Juan de Fuca.
Hicks struggled to find the words to express how everyone is feeling.
“They’re just regular Sooke boys, 20 years old, that should have a lot more to do in life than what happened on this.”
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the families but also the volunteers that have to deal with this,” he said.
Connor Ingram wants people to remember his friends for who they were: funny, happy, hard-working kids who didn’t like to party but did like to adventure.
“Their hearts were just like gold, all of them, just pure gold,” he said.
He says Eric Blackmore was extremely close with his parents and younger siblings.
“He was a mama’s boy, any time we went anywhere, ‘I love you mom, I love you dad I’ll be back’,” he said.
And the fact they were lost just trying to do something so many Sooke kids love to do, makes it even harder.
“How many kids are out raising havoc and getting in trouble these kids wanted to go enjoy nature for a minute and it took their lives, it’s that fast,” said Townsend.
“If you have loved ones if you have loved ones just hold them tight,” said Ingram.
A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to help the young men’s families.