Police and fisheries officials continued to search an expanded area of the North Thompson River on Wednesday for a missing Clearwater teacher.
Flags flew at half-staff throughout the school district as students and staff mourned the deaths of Skye and Courtney Buck, whose vehicle skidded off Highway 5 and into the river on Sunday night.
The couple’s vehicle was located in four metres of water and about 20 metres from shore on Monday night. The body of Skye Buck was found inside the vehicle. He was a teacher at Clearwater secondary and she taught at Raft River elementary.
RCMP Const. Lesley Smith said the river is running fast and the woman’s body may have been carried a considerable distance from the crash site, 17 kilometres south of Clearwater.
The RCMP dive team is using sonar equipment in areas where conditions are too hazardous for divers to enter the river.
As well, an aerial search of the river was conducted on Wednesday by an RCMP Air Services helicopter. Department of Fisheries and Oceans staff from Clearwater and Kamloops patrolled with river boats in hope of finding the missing teacher.
Mayor John Harwood said a memorial service will be held for the couple on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Clearwater secondary school.
Meanwhile, a fellow teacher has set up a fund in memory of the Bucks.
Elizabeth Devries said donations to the Skye and Courtney Buck Memorial Award can be made through the TRU Foundation. A decision on how to use the funds will be made at a later date.
Terry Sullivan, school district superintendent, said the school community is in mourning over the loss of the two young teachers, so flags will remain at half-mast until after the memorial service. Skye Buck’s parents also teach at Clearwater secondary.
“We’re trying to help the family and community work through this, to absorb the impact and to mourn this terrible loss,” Sullivan said.
Most teachers who knew the couple continue their duties rather than grieve privately, he added.
“I think people generally feel their place is to be in the schools with their students, and especially in the community of Clearwater, that has been the case. We felt that is the best place for everyone to be.”
Additional counsellors remained in Clearwater on Wednesday and will stay as long as needed.
Darren Coates, principal at the high school, said students and staff have decided to delay plans for a permanent memorial until the new year.
“I met with all the kids today and we talked about how Skye would want to be remembered in a positive way,” Coates said.