Saskatchewan resident Jessie Lavallee, age 31, is believed to have fallen off the old highway bridge at Mad River and drowned.

Military joins search for missing woman swept away in B.C. river

Saskatchewan woman reportedly fell off of old Mad River trestle bridge, not been seen since

Members of the 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group from 100 Mile House has joined the search for 31-year-old Jessie Lavallee, who is believed to have been swept away by the current after falling into Mad River.

How long the members of the unit would remain part of the search was not clear at this time.

The Canadian Rangers are a sub-component of the Canadian Armed Forces that provide a limited military presence in rural and remote areas of the nation.

Clearwater RCMP earlier confirmed that the 31-year-old woman from Saskatchwan fell into the fast-flowing Mad River north of Vavenby on Friday evening, May 11. She has not been seen since.

According to Sgt. Grant Simpson, police received a 911 call at 8:57 p.m. that evening from a 36-year-old Regina man who reported that his girlfriend, also of Regina, had just fallen into the Mad River and been swept away in the fast flowing current. Clearwater RCMP, Wells Gray Search and Rescue, BC Ambulance, and Victim Services all responded.

Patrols and searches were conducted along the riverbank from the location where the female was last seen to the railroad bridge over the North Thompson River approximately two km south the location. However, they did not find any signs of the woman.

Simpson said that investigation at this point has revealed that the two were traveling back from Vancouver to Edmonton, but they didn’t have to be in Edmonton until Monday.

The male, a truck driver, dropped his load at a pull-out north of McMurphy Station Road and the pair drove back to the Mad River pull-out and went for a walk.

They found the old Highway 5 trestle bridge and climbed onto it. The female was traversing the crossbeams on the lower portion of the bridge when she slipped and fell approximately 30 feet into the Mad River running below.

READ MORE: Timbers for trestles from Ernie Dee’s sawmill

She was quickly swept away into the North Thompson River which is also flowing very rapidly.

An RCMP helicopter was also dispatched to aid in the search for the missing woman with negative results thus far.

The investigation into this incident and the search for the missing woman are ongoing.

According to a Wells Gray Search and Rescue spokesperson, about 12 volunteers from WGSAR took part in the search.

They got the call from Emergency Coordination Centre shortly after the police were called, he said.

The old highway bridge across the Mad River is located a short distance upstream from the present highway bridge and the confluence with the North Thompson River.

The section of the North Thompson near the confluence is known as the Mad River Rapids and, at this time of year, is the site of extreme whitewater.

Members of the missing woman’s family arrived in Clearwaer on Sunday evening after an 18-hour drive from Saskatchewan.

They were unhappy that it took about 20 hours for police to inform them of the incident.

“We’re not leaving until we find my baby,” said her mother, Leona Lavallee. “We have too many unanswered questions.”



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A photo from BC Archives shows the former highway bridge across the Mad River. It is located upstream from the present highway bridge. A woman from Regina reportedly fell off the trestle portion of the bridge on Friday evening, May 11.

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