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A request for help
Family hopes William Betthale's remains can be found

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, September 15, 2011

The daughter of a man who presumably drowned in the Petitot River this spring is asking Deh Cho residents for their help.

As people head onto the rivers for their fall hunt, Rose Betthale-Reid said she hopes they can assist in the search for her father's remains. William Betthale, 92, fell out of his canoe into the Petitot River while putting in fish nets on May 27.

Betthale, who was from Fort Liard, was at his cabin with his wife Germaine and his son Jerry when the incident occurred.

Betthale's canoe was later found approximately five kilometres downriver and his walking stick was located in the same area. His tobacco pouch and gloves were also found along the river.

Family members and friends have continued to look for Betthale over the past four months when they have the time, said Betthale-Reid.

Betthale-Reid, who lives in Hay River, said she still receives phone calls from people, including residents of Fort Simpson and Nahanni Butte, telling her they have been out searching.

Betthale-Reid said the past four months have been very difficult for the family. In addition to his wife, Betthale left behind eight children, many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

"It's been touch and go all the time," she said.

"It's just such a heartbreak."

Betthale-Reid said the memory of her father has kept the family going.

"He taught us well," she said.

Betthale-Reid said her father was the last elder in her family, and in Fort Liard, who stayed primarily in the bush. It was unusual to see him in the community.

"He liked it out on the land," she said. "That's his strength."

The family is hoping that with the number of people who will be boating on the Petitot, the Liard and the Mackenzie rivers during the fall hunt, Betthale might be found. Betthale-Reid said the family would like to know where he is and lay him to rest

"That would be the best blessing in all the world," she said.

Betthale-Reid was planning to travel to Fort Liard on Sept. 13 to do one last search herself with her brother Louie Betthale, sister Susan Kotchea and her nieces and nephews before it gets too cold.

Betthale-Reid said she has also contacted people in Wrigley and plans to phone residents of Fort Good Hope asking them to watch the Mackenzie River.

Betthale-Reid asked Deh Cho residents to contact her family if they find any articles of clothing on the rivers. Betthale was wearing moccasins and rubbers when he went into the river as well as a multi-coloured fleece jacket of brown, yellow and gold. He was also wearing a hat.

This isn't the first time Betthale-Reid's family has lost a loved one to a river.

On July 13, 2008, her nephew Jim Paul Klondike was operating the outboard motor of a homemade skiff along the Liard River towards Nahanni Butte when he presumably fell overboard.

Klondike's body was found on June 21, 2009 along the shore of the Mackenzie River near Tulita.

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