RCMP thinks foul play unlikely in death of Kimberley woman

Kimberley RCMP think foul play is unlikely after receiving the results of the autopsy on 49-year-old Carol Ann McPhail whose body was recovered on March 6 in the St. Mary Lake area.

The pathologist found no direct cause of death, but also stated it will take up to six weeks for results of toxicology tests to determine whether any drugs were in McPhail's system at the time of death. Police were advised that this death is likely the result of exposure to the elements.

A combined investigation by the Kimberley and Cranbrook RCMP detachments as well as members of the South East District Major Crime Unit were able to track McPhail's movements on February 28 with assistance from the last person to see her alive. McPhail and another Kimberley resident were driving on the St. Mary Forest Service Road, near Wycliffe, heading back toward Kimberley.

While on the snow covered road, the vehicle got stuck and could not be moved. McPhail walked away from the vehicle and her companion, stating she intended to walk out of the area. She was not seen again until Search and Rescue found her body on March 6. It appeared that McPhail had walked about none kilometres through the deep snow and police think she probably succumbed to exhaustion and hypothermia.

The male companion also spent the night in the bush, keeping himself warm by starting a fire. He walked out in the late afternoon on March 1. He stated that he had no idea McPhail never made it out safe after walking away when police questioned him after the body was recovered.

Police are treating this death as accidental and have turned the investigation over to the BC Coroner's Office.

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