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Investigation into deaths of Josh and Oliver Underhay could take several weeks: P.E.I. coroner

Josh and Oliver Underhay
Josh and Oliver Underhay. - Contributed

The tragic deaths of Green party candidate Josh Underhay and his young son could eventually lead to an inquest, says the investigating coroner.

“Well, any investigation has the possibility to lead to an inquest,’’ says Dr. Craig Malone.

“Currently I don’t want to comment until we get all the results in. Essentially, time will tell.’’

Malone says the No. 1 reason to hold an inquest is if there is a concern for public safety.

“Whether this case has that…it’s too early to tell,’’ he says.

Underhay and his six-year-old son, Oliver, died after their canoe capsized on the Hillsborough River on Friday afternoon.

The two were reported missing to Queens District RCMP at 4:20 p.m. after they had gone canoeing. They had not returned to their pick-up spot on time.

Authorities located the two in the water near the capsized canoe. Both had been wearing floatation devices. They were taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown where they were declared dead.

Malone says autopsy results could take a couple of weeks to finalize.

“We don’t have any eye witnesses,’’ he adds.

“To process all of the information, it takes a while. It takes a number of weeks.’’

Malone says he is still trying to determine how long the bodies were in the water after the canoe capsized.

RCMP Sgt. Leanne Butler says police are still investigating the incident and are asking for anyone who saw a red canoe on the Hillsborough River mid-afternoon Friday behind Heartz Road in East Royalty to call RCMP at 902-370-9100.

 “It’s impossible to tell what happened unless somebody saw it,’’ says Butler. “It’s just a tragic situation.’’

The deaths rocked Prince Edward Island, casting a pall over the final days of the provincial election campaign and devastating staff and students at Birchwood Intermediate, where Underhay taught.

An online campaign had raised almost $82,000 by mid-afternoon Monday to assist Underhay’s widow, Karri, and the couple’s three-year-old son, Linden.

Donations can be made online at www.gofundme.com/raise-money-for-the-family-of-josh-underhay.

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