Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)

Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

The February 2020 deaths of three Sooke men who drowned in the Sooke River after their vehicle was swept away by the fast-running water were ruled accidental by the B.C. Corner Service in a report.

Investigators said there is no evidence foul play or intoxication was involved.

RELATED: Sooke River tragedy tinged by unanswered questions

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, disappeared on Jan. 31, 2020, sparking a massive ground and air search.

The 2004 Dodge Dakota pickup truck they were riding in was discovered in the fast-moving Sooke River on Feb. 2, about one-kilometre downstream from the lower parking lot at the Sooke Potholes Regional Park entrance. The bodies of Mills and Blackmore were found the same day. Jensen’s body was found two days later, downstream from the pickup.

The report said it’s believed the three best friends were “puddle-jumping” the truck along Sooke River Road, which was covered in fast-moving water due to a heavy rainstorm.

Puddle-jumping is a popular pastime for Sooke youth when the river overflows and involves people driving their vehicles through large pools of standing water to see the water spray up along the sides of their vehicles.

The river had risen more than six metres that weekend, and the force of the running water was enough to pull the vehicle into the river and prevent self-rescue, the coroner said.

RELATED: 1,000 attend celebration of life for men who died in Sooke River

The coroner recommended access to the parking area leading to Sooke Potholes Regional Park be closed every night and during times of flooding.

The District of Sooke has implemented the recommendation.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.



editor@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

DeathSookeSooke Potholes

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A man was sentenced to more than a year in jail for a late-night robbery in Courtenay last April. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Late-night Courtenay robbery results in 500-plus days in jail

Heatley’s sentence also includes probation, DNA order, firearms ban

A 3.0-magnitude earthquake occurred off Ucluelet just after 12:30 a.m. on April 10 and was reportedly felt as far south as Oregon. (Map via United States Geological Survey)
Quake off Ucluelet reportedly felt as far south as Oregon

Magnitude 1.5 earthquake also reported off Vancouver Island’s west coast hours earlier

The CSRHD board has diverging views on its relationship with Island Health. File photo
Comox-Strathcona board ponders relationship with Island Health

“We have to stand together … to get our share of the health budget.”

The CVCDA Accessibility Project is creating safer ramps at the Courtenay facility. Photo supplied
Accessibility project underway at Comox Valley Child Development Association

Over the past month, you may have noticed some construction underway behind… Continue reading

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, was filming near Prospect Lake in Saanich last month. (Photo courtesy Fred Haynes)
Province announces $150,000 towards South Island film studio, fulfilling B.C. NDP promise

Investment to fund movie studio feasibility study at Camosun College

Most Read