The Whitehorse Filipino community is anxiously awaiting word about a 45-year-old man who went missing in the Yukon River after attempting to rescue his seven-year-old son.
RCMP are searching the river for Benjie Correos, who went missing late Thursday afternoon after trying to save his son, Myles, who fell into the river and was nearly swept away by a strong current.
Two bystanders rescued Myles, who was later sent to hospital unconscious. Myles was not badly injured and was kept overnight for observation. He was released this morning, awake and alert.
The Filipino community is shocked and waiting to hear word about Correos, said Yvonne Clarke, a friend of the Correos family.
“The community is numb,” said Clarke. “It’s like a nightmare and we’re waiting to wake up.”
Friends and the Correos family are meeting tonight at 97 Teslin Road at 5 p.m. to assist RCMP in search efforts. Another meeting will he held at 99 Teslin Road at 6 p.m. to talk about other ways people can help the Correos family.
“We’re a very tight community,” said Clarke. “There were about 30 people in the hospital last night, and everyone was there from 5 p.m. until midnight.”
“I’m getting phone calls from people wanting to help search for Benjie. We felt helpless last night, but the RCMP is doing a great job now.”
Correos’ wife, Josie, has her son back but is still heartbroken. “She’s shocked. She can’t stop crying,” said Clarke.
Three families, including the Correos and six other children, set out to hike the Millennium Trail Thursday afternoon. The party stopped to rest near the intake of the Yukon River.
Correos was fishing in the swift river when he saw his son slip into the water.
“He was right beside Myles. He just jumped in immediately,” said Clarke. “Josie jumped in too, but she got caught by the rocks.”
Correos grabbed Myles and lifted him above water as the two struggled to stay above water and return to shore. Correos started to lose consciousness.
That’s when two bystanders — cousins — jumped into the water without hesitation and one of them, Louie, grabbed Myles.
“Louie said he didn’t think he was going to make it,” said Clarke. “(The water) was cold and moving fast.”
Correos had grabbed onto a branch to wait for rescuers, said Clarke. “He was hanging onto the branch, but by the time they got down there he was gone.”
Police performed first aid on the unconscious Myles.
Correos didn’t resurface.
RCMP started searching the area immediately. Several officers, a boat, an airplane and helicopter were dispatched to the area, along with members of the Whitehorse District Search and Rescue team.
The search party worked until darkness and continued on Friday. A meeting was held in the morning to determine how far up the river teams should be searching for Correos.
RCMP and the Filipino community are praising the two men who rescued Myles.
“Benjie is a hero,” said Clarke. “And the two guys, too, are heroes.”