A team of searchers near Gold River are hoping their latest efforts will solve a 5o-year-old mystery.
It was 1970 and Silvio Strussi was working as an equipment operator building a logging road above Muchalat Lake when the bulldozer he was on plummeted over 70 metres into the water below.
At the time, a dive team from CFB Esquimalt conducted a search but never found Strussi.
On Saturday, Kimberly Chastellaine and her brother Shawn Smith returned to Muchalat Lake north of Gold River and the exact location where their grandfather plummeted to his death.
“You know my mom and her brother were 14 and 16 when the accident happened and I don’t think it was necessarily talked about a whole bunch,” said Chastellaine. “We knew that he had died in a logging accident, that he was still in a lake somewhere.”
Ther arrival comes one day after an RCMP dive training team from Nanaimo arrived at the lake to look for Strussi. The team had heard about Strussi after reading an article and decided to see if they could find him and end the five-decade-old mystery.
“We made a few inquires into the background of the file and we have a new [Remotely Operated Vehicle] and want to test its capabilities and take it to different places to see what it’s capable of so we thought this is a good test for the new technology,” said Sgt. Jay White.
Gold River resident Gill Gardner worked with Strussi and believes Strussi’s remains are still in the cab area of the bulldozer because workers were trained to stay in the cab for protection in case of an accident.
“It’s always been a thing, every time we drove around the corner was like, there’s where the machine drove over the bank,” he said.
The dive team is making no promises about finding Strussi but will search until Tuesday.
“It’s more than we ever expected,” said Chastellaine. “We are extremely grateful to the RCMP, the dive team and the people of Gold River who have bent over backwards to help us repeatedly.”
UPDATE: Sgt. Jay White said Saturday evening that they found a car underwater in the same area, believed to be there since the 1980s and it was that vehicle that was leaking fuel to the surface, not the bulldozer.