‘All of a sudden we heard thunder’: Fishermen recall dam burst along Capilano River

Trio of fishermen say they had seconds to get out of the water.

“If they are doing maintenance they should have alarmed all of us down the river."


Investigators in British Columbia are looking into why a dam failed sending a wall of water down the Capilano River killing one and sweeping away and forcing first responders to rescue four others who were swept down river.

Keifer Baker and his two cousins were fishing when he noticed something was wrong.

“All of a sudden we heard thunder coming down it sounded like up river and we didn’t know where it was coming from,” he said. “We didn’t know where it was coming from I heard it first and then I look over to my right and I just see this big tidal wave.”

The three fishermen had just seconds to get out of the river.

“The only thing I seen go down was like fishing bags and then my cousin Keifer thought it was a body but then we were just worried about ourselves,” said Isaak Joseph. “At that point were just like lets get out of here because were trying to get the rest of our fish I was like our lives are more important at that point we were scared for our lives because you never seen that happen out of all our years fishing here.”

Keifer Baker and his two cousins were fishing when he noticed something was wrong. The three fishermen had just seconds to get out of the river.

Squamish Nation Band Councillor Chris Lewis said his nation always feared something like this could happen.

“There has been on-going calls from our fishermen and our community members to have some sort of warning system installed so that if its a siren, some sort of lights under the bridges that cross the river enhanced protocol to notify us of any planned water releases all those types of things we all need to do a better job,” he said.

The city said maintenance work was being done on the Cleveland Dam when a large volume of water poured into an area that controls its flow.

“If they are doing maintenance they should have alarmed all of us down the river,” said Joseph.

The BC Coroners Service says it is investigating the death of one person.

North Vancouver RCMP spokesman Sgt. Peter DeVries says police are continuing to investigate as they work to confirm there are no other victims.

With files from the Canadian Press

Video Journalist / Vancouver

A proud Métis from BC, Tina began her television career in 1997 as a talent agent for film and TV. She joined APTN National News in 2007 as a Video Journalist in the Vancouver bureau. In 2010, she was the recipient of the Amnesty International Human Rights Journalism Award for her story on murdered and missing women and girls.