Killaloe — A woman who was reported missing shortly after Christmas was found deceased in her vehicle early last Wednesday afternoon when a passing motorist noticed a vehicle down an embankment and in a creek at the south end of Gorman Lake along the Letterkenny Road in Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan Township.
The Killaloe Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) launched an investigation into a missing person case on December 31, 2021, and sought assistance from the public in an effort to locate the missing person from the Killaloe area.
Catherine Lewis, 48, of Belleville, had not been seen or heard from in several days, which was reported to be unusual behaviour. She was last seen in the area of Boyle Lane, in Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards Township and was believed to be operating a 2018 Hyundai Elantra, bluish purple in colour, with Ontario licence plate BYNX 442. Killaloe OPP launched an investigation on December 31.
At about 1:30 p.m. last Wednesday, January 12, Killaloe OPP officers responded to a 911 call on Letterkenny Road, near Opeongo Road. Information obtained indicated a vehicle matching the missing person’s vehicle had been discovered down an embankment with a deceased person located inside. Police, Renfrew County Ambulance and members of the Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan Fire Department responded to the scene.
The investigation confirmed the deceased person was Ms. Lewis. OPP Technical Investigators, (TCI) assisted by OPP Forensic Identification Services (FIS) and the Renfrew County Crime Unit, attended the scene to continue with the investigation. A section of Letterkenny Road, between Opeongo Road, and Rockingham Road, was closed for approximately 21 hours to facilitate the investigation.
A post-mortem examination was ordered by the Office of the Chief Coroner. The incident has been deemed as non-suspicious at this time and the cause of the collision remains under investigation.
The deceased was the daughter of former Killaloe OPP Sgt. Terry Lewis and his late wife, Judy. The Lewis family lived in Eganville where Catherine and her brother, Michael, spent their childhood years and attended St. James Catholic School and later Opeongo High School.
The Killaloe OPP and Renfrew County Crime Unit thank all community members for their information and continued support during this investigation.
Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan (BLR) Township Fire Chief Jordan Genrick said the department attended the scene on three occasions to assist the OPP, twice on Wednesday and again once on Thursday.
“The initial call was for an MVC (Motor Vehicle Collision) and water rescue and the details were quite vague really,” he said. “There was no 911 number or anything like that. It was just in the area of Opeongo Road and Letterkenny.”
Based on that initial call, Chief Genrick said firefighters first assumed someone may have gone through the ice on a lake in the area.
“Lake Gorman is right there so we thought maybe someone was heading out fishing and we assumed that maybe we would find the car in the lake. The initial call said there was a vehicle in the water and that was about the only details they gave.”
He said two of the BLR firefighters arrived on scene in their personal vehicles prior to the department trucks arriving. He said the OPP had assessed the scene and some members of the department assisted with traffic control. They were released from the scene around 4 p.m. when County of Renfrew roads employees closed the road. They were also told they might be required later for extrication/recovery purposes.
“At 7:30 last (Wednesday) night, we got called back for assistance to remove some trees and brush, which we did, and then we were going to attempt recovery at that point,” he explained. “We got the vehicle out of the ditch, up onto the road, and the OPP wanted to continue the investigation a little bit further, and we were sent home again.
“Then this (Thursday) morning, we were called back out at 9:30 and we did the extrication of the deceased,” he added.
Chief Genrick said during their first visit to the site, they were made aware of the fact the vehicle might belong to the missing woman, Cathy Lewis.
“They weren’t 100 percent sure at that time,” he noted. “That’s what they presumed, that that was the vehicle involved.”
He said it was confirmed it was Ms. Lewis on Thursday morning.
He said because of the length of time when it is assumed the accident occurred to when the vehicle was discovered there was no sign of tracks or other information as to what might have happened.
“The vehicle did leave the roadway and ended up in the creek that exits Lake Gorman,” he said.
Chief Genrick said while the embankment down to the location was not incredibly severe, the issue was there was a lot of brush in the area.
“And the cedars along the edge of the creek were so thick that it camouflaged the vehicle,” he said.
He said it was assumed the vehicle may have possibly left the road the night Ms. Lewis was last seen in the area.
“But that’s up to the OPP to determine that,” he said.
He said the water was about 12” to 14” deep in the creek and the vehicle was “lengthways” with the creek.
“Just the location and the way it was sitting made it impossible to see from the roadway.”
Chief Genrick said while he cannot say for certain, there was some damage to the vehicle that would indicate it had possibly rolled over before coming to rest in the ditch.
“It appeared to have possibly rolled, yes, just the way the vehicle had the damage on it, that it rolled or spun around anyway.”
He said the airbags had deployed in the vehicle.
“It was an unfortunate end to the search. It’s a tough one for sure.” Chief Genrick said they will be keeping in touch with the firefighters who attended the scene and if anyone is struggling with it, they will be talking with them.
“And we do have counselling available to us here at our local church as well,” he said