Conor Sykes, 33, shares a moment with his son Liam, 6, in this undated handout photo. RCMP say the bodies of two men and two boys have been recovered following a canoeing accident on a northern Manitoba river. Loved ones say Shane Cripps, 44, and Conor Sykes, 33, were best friends. Cripps’s son Dylan, 14, and Sykes’s son Liam, who was six, were with them on the excursion. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Facebook, Lindsay Catherine Rose Sykes *MANDATORY CREDIT*

Two men, two boys die in canoeing accident

THOMPSON, Man. — A young man says he’s devastated after his father and his dad’s best friend died in a canoeing accident in northern Manitoba along with two of their sons.

James Cripps says it’s surreal that his father and younger brother are gone.

“It just feels like your entire world crashes down on you,” he said Tuesday.

RCMP said a search began on Monday after the four paddlers were reported overdue from a trip on the Burntwood River north of Thompson.

Police officers and firefighters launched two rescue boats and chartered a helicopter. Several boaters in the area also took part.

The overturned craft and the bodies of the four canoeists were found in the water.

Police said all the victims were wearing life jackets. They were all from Thompson, about 740 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

Loved ones say Shane Cripps, 44, and Conor Sykes, 33, were best friends.

Cripps’s son Dylan, 14, and Sykes’s son Liam, who was six, were with them on the excursion.

James Cripps, 18, said he looked up to his father.

“My dad was my hero, obviously. He’s everything I aspired to be as a man when I grew up. He taught me so many lessons. He’s been there for everything,” he said.

“He was just an awesome, awesome guy. All families have their disagreements at times, but he never hesitated to tell me that he’d be there for me.”

He said his brother Dylan was his best friend and he remembers being there to catch his little brother when he was just learning to walk. Later, they loved to play hockey together.

If ever the brothers had a big fight, everything would be fine the next day, he said.

He remembered one time when his dad fell into the water when their canoe tipped on a lake. He was able to swim back to the boat and get back in and everyone had a good laugh about it.

“Any time someone falls in the water, everything’s OK, you’re going to laugh about it after,” Cripps said.

“This time they weren’t.”

The elder Cripps was a well-respected entrepreneur in northern Manitoba, who had an ecotourism lodge, restaurant and other ventures, said friend Jody Linklater.

“He was very influential in starting businesses and employing lots of people from the north,” he said.

Linklater, who knew Cripps for 15 years, said they were working together on organizing northern Manitoba’s first sanctioned mixed martial arts event in June.

He said Cripps’s wife, Li, has told him she wants to honour her husband’s legacy by going ahead with the ”Throw Down in T-town” event, but it’s been postponed until the fall.

Linklater said Dylan was a great kid. Linklater had played Ping-Pong with him just four days ago.

He said the family was tight.

“They spent a lot of time together and canoeing was one of the activities that they liked doing.”

Linklater said he doesn’t understand how all four could have died, but he noted that ice has remained on the Burntwood River longer than usual this season and the area got some snow in the last week or so.

Lindsay Catherine Rose Sykes told CBC News it was the first canoe trip of the year for her husband Conor, their son Liam and the Cripps pair.

“I have a baby girl. Her name’s Annabelle. She’s four and she lost her best friend, Liam, her brother, and her daddy,” Sykes said through heavy sobs. “We were so happy. We were such a happy family.”

She posted a photo on Facebook of her husband smiling at the boy on his lap with the caption “loves of my life.”

The photo garnered several messages of condolence.

“This is absolutely heartbreaking. I can’t imagine what you are going through,” said one.

Another said: “Shocked and sad. If there’s anything we can do, please let us know. Love you.”

Just Posted

La Loche school shooter carried out plan with ‘stark efficiency:’ Crown

MEADOW LAKE, Sask. — A Saskatchewan judge is weighing whether a teenager… Continue reading

Castor triple-murder trial resumes on Monday

Trial was delayed two weeks for two men accused of killing Castor-area family

Red Deer Royals are sending 1,000 letters to Trudeau

The band must pay for the last 20 per cent of fieldhouse costs

Central Alberta real estate market reflects Alberta’s slow recovery

Real estate markets will bounce back but incoming mortgage changes don’t help, say realtor groups

Lorinda Stewart recounts bargaining for her daughter’s life in new memoir

Amanda Lindhout’s mom will speak in Red Deer on Nov. 4

UPDATED: Look no further than Westerner Park for renovation ideas

Red Deer Home Renovation & Design Show runs Friday to Sunday

Friday Oct. 21: Winning Lotto Numbers

Friday, October 20, 2017 LOTTO MAX Winning Numbers 1 4 12 27… Continue reading

New northbound Hwy 2 lanes at Gaetz Avenue to open this Sunday

Drivers heading north through Red Deer on Hwy 2 will have a… Continue reading

Sockey Night at Saturday’s Rebels game

United Way Central Alberta is determined to provide warm feet for all… Continue reading

Canadian planet hunter seeking alien life

‘The shifting line of what is crazy’ says Toronto-born astrophysicist

All three victims identified in Fernie arena ammonia leak

Wayne Hornquist and Lloyd Smith were from Fernie and Jason Podloski from Turner Valley, Alta

4 B.C. prisons install body scanners to combat drug smuggling

The scanners are aimed to combat the smuggling of contraband including weapons and drugs

Owner of medical marijuana dispensaries challenges constitutionality of law

The law under which the owner of two medical marijuana dispensaries was… Continue reading

Victim in fatal ammonia leak remembered for his passion and smile

Friends and colleagues remember Lloyd Smith as someone who was always willing to help people

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month