(Advocate file photo).

Bodies of three hikers recovered after slipping into pools of B.C. waterfall

SQUAMISH, B.C. — Police say the bodies of three hikers who slipped and fell into one of the pools of a waterfall north of Vancouver were recovered from the area Wednesday evening.

The RCMP says in a statement that they have turned the case over to the B.C. coroner, adding that the names of the hikers will not be released.

Squamish Search and Rescue spokesman John Willcox says a young woman was swept into one of the pools at about noon Tuesday and her boyfriend and another man tried to save her and all fell in.

He says their friends reported seeing them carried over the lip of one pool and into a second.

Willcox says crews are known to rescue people who have slipped in the area where hikers often fill their water bottles after spending a few hours traversing a strenuous trail.

They end up by the beautiful granite that’s been carved by the water over hundreds of years but the buildup of lichen makes the area slick, Willcox says, adding dogs and people have slipped into the water but have been helped out.

“This is the first time I’m aware that anybody has gone over the falls,” Willcox said, adding people should stay well away from the area.

Willcox said earlier Wednesday that crews were using ropes to lower RCMP officers into the pool at Shannon Falls.

“Getting the helicopter in to actually do an extraction out of there has its challenges,” he said.

The bodies of the woman and two men, all from British Columbia and in their 20s and early 30s, were discovered Tuesday evening.

Willcox said the area near Squamish has become increasingly popular with the addition of a gondola that is drawing a lot of locals and tourists who often hike into risky terrain without knowing what’s involved.

RCMP Cpl. Sascha Banks of the Squamish detachment said the pools are not accessible by side trails in the area that is extremely risky.

“These pool systems, unless you have the right equipment with you, unless you understand the area, that you’re safe about doing it, you should not be up there.”

Searchers used an underwater camera to scour the pool on Tuesday in hopes of determining its depth as they searched for the hikers.

RCMP said the three were swimming in one of the icy pools that form part of the majestic Shannon Falls, a 335-metre waterfall about 60 kilometres north of Vancouver.

Numerous search and rescue teams, BC Ambulance paramedics, BC Parks rangers and the RCMP were involved in the operation.

Shannon Falls and any trails leading to the pool system at the top of the falls remained closed to the public on Wednesday.

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