Raft carrying ashes lost somewhere along Shuswap Lake; South Thomspon River | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Raft carrying ashes lost somewhere along Shuswap Lake; South Thomspon River

A group of Healey's friends and family gathered to send his ashes out for a brief float on the lake. They weren't expecting that the raft, pictured, would be carried away.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK - Alex Perry
August 31, 2019 - 3:30 PM

KAMLOOPS -  If you’re out on the water this long weekend keep an eye out for a handcrafted wooden raft adorned with flowers, hand-written messages, and some ashes.

On the evening of Aug. 24, family and friends gathered along the shore of Shuswap Lake by Scotch Creek to release a handcrafted raft in memory of the late 24-year old Dallas Jordan Healey.  The raft that carried some of Healey’s ashes onto the lake got swept out of sight, and now one of his friends has asked the public for help.

Alex Perry, a longtime friend of Healey, built the vessel with another friend and hopes to have it found and returned.

“We didn't really think it was going to go that far, we thought the waves would kind of push it back in,” Perry says. “It just went straight to the middle of the lake and then just started going cruising. That’s not what we were expecting, we wanted it to be close.”

After asking for tips in the local area, Perry asked for assistance from the public.

“It could’ve made its way down the river and it could be very far away,” Perry says. “That's why I posted it on Facebook just to get the word out there a little farther than the Shuswap area.”

Credit: FACEBOOK - Alex Perry

When it was apparent they couldn’t retrieve the raft that night, Healey’s mother remained positive.

“His mom kind of wanted him to go out on his adventure,” Perry says. “She's okay with it, but she would like to see it again one day and so would I... It would mean a lot to her to have it back with her.”

Perry says he had planned to put the raft in Healey’s mother’s garden afterward.

“(Healey and I) had a plan of making his mother a really nice garden with hammocks above it and we never really got to do that,” Perry says, “So she was going to hang his hammock in the garden with his boat underneath it.”

Perry says that Healey’s late stepfather had a similar memorial, with his ashes sent off in a biodegradable urn. When Healey’s mother suggested the same for her son’s ashes, Perry and another friend decided to create something unique. They made the driftwood raft which is adorned with flowers, messages, and signatures from Healey’s friends and loved ones.

“We had it laid out at the memorial so that everybody could sign it before we sent it out,” Perry says.

Perry and Healey met while living in the small town of Celista over ten years ago.

“We were basically forced together because there was no one else to hang out with, but it turned into one of the best friendships I've ever had,” Perry says. “He was one of my closest friends.”

When Healey moved to Kamloops for his construction job, he still had a soft spot for the wilderness and would plan hikes and camping trips with his friends. Perry says some of Healey’s close friends and family have a small amount of his ashes in small bottle-style necklaces, and says more of the ashes will be spread in some of Healey's favourite spots. Perry says they plan to spread his ashes in spots such as Adams Lake, Mount Seymour, and a place they’ve dubbed the “Gorge” near Lee Creek.

“Actually, the day after he had passed away he was planning on us all going for a hike at the ‘Gorge,’” Perry says. “We all got together since he wasn't there anymore and we went for the hike anyways for him.”

Perry says Healey was a “very loving and caring” to those in his life. Perry credits his mental well-being to his late friend, who helped turn around his negative thoughts during trying moments.

“When I was quite a bit younger, I had issues with suicide and he was there for a lot of it,” Perry says. “He was always the one to talk me out of it, get me on a better path and in a better headspace. That's why it hit me so hard, he was always there to help me with it, I never expected him to do it himself.”

Perry says he has been trying to focus on the many positive memories spent with Healey and plans to honour his friend in a lasting way.

“I have a baby on the way in December… we plan on naming them after D.J., Dallas Jordan.”

Alex Perry, left, and Dallas Jordan Healey were longtime best friends.
Alex Perry, left, and Dallas Jordan Healey were longtime best friends.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED- Alex Perry

If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression, suicidal thoughts, or need to talk through something difficult, here are some resources that will connect you with someone to help. Contact the Crisis Centre at 1-800-784-2433 or Canadian Mental Health Association - British Columbia Division at 604-688-3234.

— This story was updated at 6:01 p.m., Saturday, August 31, to include Perry's Facebook post and to correct the spelling of Dallas Jordan Healey's name.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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