Law enforcement and search and rescue personnel are frequently required to search for drowning victims. Underwater searching by divers is time consuming and can be very dangerous depending upon the water depth, visibility, current and underwater obstructions.
Even with their professional training and dedication they are sometimes limited to their recovery efforts. The Stephan Hopkins Memorial Foundation was formed to assist families of drowning victims to locate their loved ones through side scan sonar technology that was not currently being used in Newfoundland & Labrador. This technology, with the right conditions, can locate a drowning victims within minutes.
The Stephan Hopkins Memorial Foundation is committed to helping families recover their loved ones who have lost their lives through drowning. Families and communities are in mourning and need closure to their loss. Our initiative, once all other methods of recovery have been unsuccessful, is to send a response team to help families bring their loved one to rest.
Why the foundation was started
During the summer of 2007, tragedy stuck the province of Newfoundland and Labrador when 19 year old Stephan Hopkins drowned in a boating accident near a friend’s cabin. The popular hockey all-star had tried in vain to swim ashore after the canoe he had been paddling capsized on a July evening. The search for his body dragged on for 73 agonizing days. One after another, the official efforts to locate Stephan failed. The problem wasn’t the dedication or professionalism of the searchers, but rather the equipment being used. It was the best available in the province but unfortunately wasn’t good enough. An American couple Gene and Sandy Ralston, former environmental consultants, were contacted and volunteered to drive from Idaho with their side-scan sonar rig. They located and recovered Stephan’s body after only 29 minutes of searching using the technology they’ve pioneered. The Ralston’s have proven, through countless successful searches across North America, that side-scan sonar is the single best way to find the missing drowning victims. Even though Stephan’s family was devastated by the loss of their beautiful 19 year old son, they vowed to protect other families from enduring a similar heartache. By securing the same equipment used by the Ralston’s, the Stephan Hopkins Memorial Foundation was formed.