SB Fortuna has been dry-docked for the winter. When investigating the grim fates that have befallen people, the modest-looking boat has been subjected to some of the largest waves in Finland. The Fortuna is used to search for drowned bodies by a team consisting of volunteers.
Even though the underwater search operations boat has been lifted from the water for the winter, the rescuers are not resting on their laurels. They search for bodies all year round: in the winter, they work on the ice, while in the summer, they work on the deck of the Fortuna.
Around 150–200 people drown in Finland every year. Some of them are never found.
“Finding the lost person is important. Even though there is no longer any hope, the next of kin are still in distress. When the body of the drowned person has been found, the family can start to grieve and continue on with their lives,” explains Marko Hyväri, who established the search team, Lumijoen etsintävene team ry.
Important voluntary task
The operations of the search boat association from Lumijoki started with a specially constructed aluminum boat that was built and equipped by Reijo Savukoski, who searched for drowned bodies for almost 30 years. When the legendary Savukoski retired, SB Fortuna continued her journey to Lumijoki.
“We receive requests from all around Finland. A search of a waterway can take anywhere from several hours to several months. We selflessly want to help the families and authorities in difficult water searches,” Hyväri explains the background of the association.
In addition to Marko Hyväri, the search team consists of Sirpa Laitinen-Kauppi, Kari Kauppi, Markus Lehto, Kati Hyväri, and Heidi Hyväri. They are assisted by German Shepherd Jero, who is currently undergoing cadaver dog training.
“We work on a volunteer basis and do not receive any pay for the searches. Our supporters enable us to carry out the searches, maintain our equipment, and acquire new equipment.”
Fennovoima supports sports, culture, and general interest projects in Pyhäjoki and the Pyhäjoki region. The Lumijoki search and rescue boat association received support from Fennovoima last year. Before that, Fennovoima supported Etsintäveneen tuki ry, an association maintained by Savukoski.