Charges laid in waterfront murder

Police have arrested and charged a Whitehorse woman, in relation to the body that was discovered in the Yukon River on Sunday.

Police have arrested and charged a Whitehorse woman, in relation to the body that was discovered in the Yukon River on Sunday.

Alicia Ann Murphy has been charged with the second-degree murder of Evangeline Billy, a 24-year-old woman formerly from Carmacks.

Murphy made her first court appearance on Monday and will be back in court on July 4.

The 27-year-old remains in custody and has been ordered not to communicate in any way with four people.

Police were notified that a body had been found floating behind the Roundhouse at 12:44 p.m. on Sunday.

The preliminary investigation led police to believe that foul play was involved.

The police are continuing the investigation and had a helicopter hovering over the site on Tuesday.

The Whitehorse RCMP detachment is not releasing any more information. There has been a court-ordered publication ban on any evidence, argument, and the judge’s reasons respecting bail.

Father and son die on Alsek

By Chris Oke with files from Idaho Fall’s Post Register

News Reporter

A tragic rafting incident took two lives on June 18.

Idaho Falls resident Joseph Leffel and his 34-year-old son Jeremiah died after being thrown from their raft into the frigid waters of the Alsek River.

The group was very experienced, said Parks Canada warden Andrew Lawrence.

Joseph Leffel, Idaho Bureau of Land Management’s lead recreation technician, had been rafting for more than 30 years.

“It was an unfortunate accident that they ended up in the water,” said Lawrence.

“But that’s always a likelihood.”

The tragedy happened five days into the five-person group’s two-week trip.

They had made it about 53 kilometres down the river and were near the confluence with the Bates River.

In that section of the river, the class-five rapid sucked the two boats toward a large boulder on the right hand side of the river.

The water level was also at a medium to low level, exposing many rocks and gravel bars and leaving the raft with little margin for error.

One of the two boats didn’t make it and slammed into a large standing wave, coming to a sudden lurching stop.

The raft didn’t flip but its three paddlers were thrown into the water.

Although all three were wearing lifejackets and insulative clothing, they weren’t wearing the recommended wetsuits or helmets.

The second raft, which was only a minute or two behind the first, was able to recover all three people.

Joseph and Jeremiah were both unresponsive by the time they were recovered.

The third passenger, Jeremiah’s wife, was rescued after traveling 15 to 20 minutes in the water, said Lawrence.

She had traveled nearly four kilometres down the river, hitting rocks as she was dragged along.

“She was conscious but very cold of course and needed treatment for hypothermia,” said Lawrence.

The survivors set up a camp to try to radio for help or wait for another group to come down the river.

Two days later, they managed to contact an overhead Cathay Pacific flight with a VHF Radio.

The pilot then notified the Haines Junction wardens’ office.

Two park wardens and a nurse rushed to the site by helicopter.

“It took us about a half an hour to get to the site and the first thing we did is we evacuated two of the survivors,” said Lawrence.

“There was an RCMP officer that came out with us on the second flight to help with the deceased.”

The last river fatality occurred in the very same spot in 1993, said Lawrence.

“Same situation: a woman fell out of a raft and just got taken down the river and by the time her friends caught up to her she was unresponsive.”

RCMP and Parks Canada remind paddlers that the water in the Yukon is very cold.

Many of the rivers, like the Alsek, are glacial fed so they’re not that much warmer than the freezing point.

“They may only be only about three to four degrees Celsius,” said Lawrence.

“If you end up in the water, there’s not a lot you can do for yourself once you’re there.”

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