Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Stephan Hopkins Memorial Foundation is one step closer to meeting its fundraising goal, thanks to a $25,000 donation announced by the provincial government on Wednesday.

The foundation is attempting to raise $265,000 for new side-scan sonar equipment for the province in memory of Stephan Hopkins — a 19-year-old man from Deer Lake.

Hopkins drowned as a result of a boating accident in July 2007. Following the incident, RCMP divers and search and rescue teams attempted to find the young man’s body. After a week of intensive searching, the body was still missing.

Hopkins’ uncle eventually contacted Gene and Sandy Ralston, who specialize in underwater recovery operations.

The Ralstons pioneered side-scan sonar technology. The technology operates as a search tool, allowing large underwater areas to be covered in far less time than with traditional search methods.

The Ralstons came from Boise, Idaho to assist the Hopkins family. They were able to find Hopkins‚ body in approximately 80 feet of water. The search took less than an hour.

The Hopkins family now wants side-scan sonar to be readily available in the province.

“What happened to us was a family’s worst nightmare,” said Stephan’s father Terry Hopkins. “Our 19-year-old son was involved in a boating accident which claimed his life.
Coupled with that, we were unsuccessful in trying to locate Stephan’s body for 73 days. We vowed that no family would ever have to endure such pain again.” Rest of the story at The Western Star.

You can read more about this tragic accident at the memorial web site As well as more info on side scan sonar and how to donate.

While I haven't had the pleasure of using side scan sonar I have quite often heard and read about it's extraordinary uses and advanced technology.

Something like this would make mapping and charting all of our unmapped inland lakes so much easier. Hence being able to produce high quality hydro maps for users who are unfamiliar with the hidden dangers in our lakes.


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