Undiagnosed tumour believed to be cause of South Surrey man’s drowning

Family grateful for international efforts to find answers for what led to Mele's sudden death in U.S. waters .

The family of well-known South Surrey real-estate developer John Mele have been informed that a previously undiagnosed brain tumour was the cause of his sudden death in the U.S. last week.

The 43-year-old, who drowned Aug. 1 while boating on Washington’s Osoyoos Lake, was diagnosed with a posterior fossa intracranial brain tumour following an autopsy, brother-in-law Gary Hawes told Peace Arch News Thursday, noting his family is grateful to authorities on both sides of the border, who took part in the search that led to answers.

According to Hawes, Mele and his family were unaware of the tumour, which was described as a “ticking time bomb” that was big enough to push against the brain stem, likely causing the father of three to black out while in the water.

A celebration of life for the father of three will be held Aug. 20 at 3 p.m., at Peace Portal Alliance Church, 15128 27B Ave.

Mele was well-known in the community for his business endeavors – he and friend Chuck Westgard operated Royal LePage Westgard Realty – and community work, including coaching youth baseball.

The noted family man was on the boat Aug. 1 with his three children, along with longtime friend Darren Mahaffey and his eldest son.

After doing a backflip off the boat into the lake, Mele did not resurface, Hawes said.

Mele’s body was discovered two days later after additional divers and high-tech services were called in to assist the local sheriff’s department.

According to Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers, the international collaborative effort between local and Canadian officials was not completely unprecedented.

“We work well with RCMP on a lot of things, but never a drowning. They sent divers down and their sonar equipment,” he said. “They were a huge help and we are extremely grateful to the RCMP for coming down.”

Hawes said Mele’s loved ones are indebted to the RCMP officers for their willingness to aid in the U.S. investigation.

“They came down with their high-tech sonar gear and found him Sunday evening after only being in the water for about 45 minutes. They found him very quickly,” Hawes said.

“The entire family, all our friends, (owe) just a huge debt to the RCMP. We were so proud and it gave you a patriotic feeling to see your guys come across the border and get the job done and provide the family with a sense of closure.”

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Left, Rowena Leivo early on in her volunteer career with the South Surrey/White Rock Food Bank. Right, Leivo in the food bank Tuesday. (Contributed photos)
After 34 years, ‘The Boss’ retires from South Surrey Food Bank volunteer gig

Rowena Leivo, 90, spent a third of her life volunteering at the food bank

The Surrey Eagles are currently seeking billet families for its players in advance of the 2020-‘21 BC Hockey League season. (Garrett James photo)
Surrey Eagles in ‘desperate’ need of billet families for BCHL season

COVID-19 pandemic has made finding homes for players difficult: billet co-ordinator

Matthew Campbell, director of the Fraser Valley Regional Food Bank, stands amongst a large amount of non-perishable food and household items being stored inside the Pacific Community Church. This year’s ‘Halloween For Hunger’ food drive, put on by students at Clayton Heights, will go to benefit the Fraser Valley Regional Food Bank. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Clayton Heights Secondary kicks off annual ‘Halloween for Hunger’ event

Students to collect much-needed items for food bank

Ali Watson in Arts Club Theatre Company’s production of “No Child…,” which plays until Nov. 8. (photo: Moonrider Productions)
Viewers of Arts Club’s streaming plays support Surrey Civic Theatres

Company’s ‘bubble method’ of theatre production means just 50 in-person tickets for each performance

Surrey RCMP cruisers outside a Newton townhouse Tuesday night. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
UPDATE: Toddler in hospital, woman dead following stabbings at Surrey townhouse

Police say two-year-old was among victims found at townhouse complex in the 12700-block of 66 Avenue

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter at Kitimat competes against producers in the Middle East and Russia that have no carbon tax. (Rio Tinto)
B.C. carbon tax highest in Canada, export industries unprotected

B.C. NDP, B.C. Liberals say they’re looking at exemptions

In this file photo, snow is seen falling along the Coquihalla Highway. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
Weather statement issued for Coquihalla, Hwy 3, as arctic front approaches

The early season snowfall expected to hit Fraser Valley, Friday, Oct. 23

(Pixabay)
Vancouver teacher suspended after swearing, touching students and complimenting underwear

McCabe touched students, including rubbing their backs and necks, touching their hair and hugging them

Most Read