Body found in search for missing trampers


A search for two missing Canadian trampers has found a man’s body in avalanche debris off the Kepler Track.

Student tourists Louis Vincent Lessard and Etienne Lemieux, both aged 23, were last seen on July 7. 

Police launched a search operation yesterday after family members reported them overdue. 

Search teams and helicopters scoured Fiordland National Park near the track where the men were understood to be tramping. 

At about 4pm, the body was spotted in an area between Hanging Valley Hut and Iris Burn Hut. 

The man was found within a field of avalanche debris and was about 350m below the Kepler Track proper, police said.

The man’s identity had not been confirmed late last night. The families of both men have been informed of the discovery.

Weather had deteriorated in the area yesterday afternoon and the helicopters were withdrawn from the search area.

The situation will be reassessed early today, with a view to undertaking a ground based search and recovery operation.

Lessard and Lemieux were last seen on July 7 after travelling by bus to Te Anau from Queenstown.

The Université de Montréal industrial design students were tramping at various locations around the country.

The pair had been due home in Canada on July 24 and concerned family members raised the alarm when they did not arrive. 

Police checked huts and log books on the track yesterday morning.

Otago Daily Times