OPP complete recovery operation on Lake Ontario near Amherstview

Search and recovery crews on Lake Ontario near Amherstview work on a large barge brought in from Doornekamp Construction’s Picton Terminals as an OPP boat returns to the barge on the afternoon of Wednesday, May 3, 2023. The Amherst Island ferry can be seen crossing the lake in the background. Photo by Cris Vilela/Kingstonist.

A two-day search and recovery operation on Lake Ontario, off the shores of Amherstview just west of Kingston, has come to an end, as human remains and a vehicle discovered earlier this year have now been recovered.

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) announced on Wednesday, May 3, 2023, that, during the recovery of a vehicle in the water in January, search and recovery teams had located another vehicle underwater in the same area.

“During the follow-up investigation in April, it was determined that this vehicle contained human remains and had been in the water for many years,” the OPP said at the time. “The identity of the deceased has not been determined.”

Using a sizable barge along with underwater surveillance technology, divers, a handful of boats, and a large crane, the search and recovery operations began Wednesday morning, prompting police to notify the public about the operation due to a large police presence at the Collins Bay boat ramp, which is located just off Highway 33 (Bath Road). Police also advised drivers that a police presence on Collins Bay Road and County Road 6 should be expected. Crews returned to the site early Thursday morning to continue the work, which was expected to take two days in total.

By approximately 1:20 p.m. on Thursday, May 4, 2023, those crews had completed their recovery operations, hoisting the vehicle onto the barge and into a large bin to contain and conceal it. And while the barge is now on its way back to Picton where it’s stored, the work for police investigating the situation is really just beginning, explained Acting Sergeant Erin Cranton, Media Relations Officer for the Lennox and Addington (L&A) County OPP.

“We will not be able to confirm who the deceased is until we have forensic identification. This may take time given that we believe the vehicle and remains have been in the water for many years,” Cranton said, noting that the OPP can appreciate that members of the public have questions regarding the investigation.

Asked if she could provide an approximate length of time police believe the vehicle and remains have been in the water, Cranton said police “don’t want to speculate” on those matters.

“This is an ongoing investigation that will require an up close, detailed examination of the vehicle before we can provide specifics,” she said.

“The OPP will provide updates on the investigation when there is new information to share.”

Crews work to ready the barge and equipment to disembark the search and recovery area after the recovery of the vehicle and human remains was completed on Thursday, May 4, 2023. The barge departed the area and headed east before 3 p.m. that day. Photo by Cris Vilela/Kingstonist.

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