Ashcroft RCMP confirmed on Sunday, May 28 that the body of missing Cache Creek fire chief Clayton Cassidy was located late on the evening of Saturday, May 27. “We’re happy in one way, sad in another,” said one of Clayton’s brothers, Patrick Cassidy, following the news.
“We heard on Saturday evening that he had been located, and he was identified on Sunday morning,” said Patrick. “The family is happy that we found him and could bring him home.”
At approximately 8 pm on Saturday, the Ashcroft RCMP was advised that Cassidy’s body had been located in Cache Creek by the Ashcroft fire department during the daily evening patrol of Cache Creek. Patrols of the creek have been made every morning and evening since Cassidy went missing on May 5.
Ashcroft RCMP, Kamloops Search and Rescue (KSAR) personnel, and members of Ashcroft Fire Rescue worked throughout the night on the recovery effort, battling frigid water temperatures in the creek. At 8 a.m. on Sunday morning, personnel from 100 Mile Search and Rescue arrived at the site to relieve the Kamloops team, and Cassidy was recovered at approximately 9 a.m.
Cassidy’s body was located a short distance away from a bridge which washed out on Cache Creek below the Brookside Campground. He went missing in the early hours of May 5, while checking water levels around the village following flooding on the evening of May 4. He was last seen at approximately 3:30 a.m. on the 5th, and later in the morning the Cache Creek Fire Department crew cab he had been driving was spotted, still idling, by the creek below Brookside.
Cassidy was a member of the Cache Creek Fire Department for more than 30 years, and served as the department’s chief for more than a decade; most recently from spring 2016 until his disappearance on May 5, when he was presumed to have been swept away by floodwater in Cache Creek. In June 2016 he received the province’s Medal of Good Citizenship for his volunteer efforts in the community over the years, including his work after the severe flooding in Cache Creek in May 2015.
An intense search involving hundreds of people took place in the 10 days after his disappearance, until the search was officially suspended on May 14. However, the file remained open with Ashcroft RCMP and the ticket remained open with KSAR.
Ashcroft RCMP provided support to Clayton’s family after it was announced that he had been found, and volunteers who assisted in the search for Cassidy were alerted. Several of them, along with members of the Cache Creek Fire Department, met at the Cache Creek fire hall on Sunday morning.
“We wanted to find him and bring him home,” said Ashcroft fire chief Josh White, who was in charge of the volunteer command centre during the search and who has been doing patrols every evening since the search was suspended on May 14. “I’ve never been more driven in my life to accomplish something. We did it for all those who showed up to search for 10 days. The number of people who volunteered speaks volumes about Clayton. They’re a great group of people.”
Patrick Cassidy says that the family now needs to focus on celebrating Clayton. “It has become a reality. Even though we were 99.9 per cent sure where he was, it wasn’t final. There were lots of questions about ‘Where was he?’ The family is relieved in a sense, but closure—I don’t think it will ever get closed.”
A public celebration of life for Clayton Cassidy is planned for Saturday, June 3.