The body of a paraglider who went missing after landing in the Lillooet River near Pemberton on Monday (Aug. 6) has been found.
Family members of Seattle's John Clifford contacted The Question late Tuesday (Aug. 7) afternoon to report that the 55-year-old's body had been recovered.
Clifford was a tandem paragliding instructor who was in Pemberton to compete in the Canadian National Paragliding Championships.
A press release issued by event organizers earlier Tuesday provided a description of the incident.
"Eyewitnesses reported him undergoing a forced landing into the fast-moving Lillooet River approximately 18 km northwest of Pemberton," said the release. "Local emergency and search and rescue crews, a helicopter, as well as event organizers immediately began a search of the river. Local residents, event volunteers and fellow competitors also searched along the river banks, but no sign was found of the pilot."
Clifford is survived by a wife and 5-year-old daughter, according to family members.
Earlier on Tuesday, event organizer Jim Orava told The Question that Clifford had "quite a bit of experience" but made "a series of poor decisions" after an order was made to get out of the air due to the approaching storm.
"It was a fellow who was told to get out of the air but for some reason he didn't," said event organizer Jim Orava.
The release said almost all competitors had returned back to land before a storm front reached the area.
"It is believed that Clifford somehow flew himself near to the edge of the front while at a relatively low altitude over the river when the accident occurred," said the release.
Family members said they've been told the race was called off at 5:10 p.m. Monday, but that Clifford chose to fly towards the approaching storm cloud and execute a "big ears" maneuver, planning to land in a farmer's field below.
The landing route required that Clifford pass over the Lillooet River, but he was trapped by a gust of wind while at an altitude of approximately 50 metres and was hurled into the water while still attached to his glider harness at around 5:30 p.m., said family members.
The competition was suspended on Tuesday and is expected to resume on Wednesday (Aug. 9) and continue to its scheduled end on Sunday (Aug. 12).
"We are saddened by this accident. We will take the day to regroup, but the pilots have expressed their unanimous wish to continue the competition," Orava said in the release.
Stay tuned to The Question for further updates on this story.