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Canoeist declared a missing person; no plans to resume search

Jul 10 2012
A Royal Canadian Cormorant helicopter circles, above the water off Discovery Island, looking for a missing boater. 

A Royal Canadian Cormorant helicopter circles, above the water off Discovery Island, looking for a missing boater.

Photograph by: Lyle Stafford , timescolonist.com (July 2012)

Saanich detectives are bracing family of a missing canoeist for the worst possible news.

An extensive 13-hour search for the missing man was called off Saturday after the boat he was paddling with another 20-year-old man capsized off Ten Mile Point and was later recovered.

Police met with the missing man’s family Monday.

“It’s a tragedy for two families,” Sgt. Dean Jantzen said Monday. “Detectives are providing support to the family of the young men.”

Both the Canadian and U.S. coast guards, as well as military helicopters, police and fire departments, were involved in the air and sea search for the 20-year-old man from Saanich.

“We are not contemplating resuming the search,” Jantzen said. The incident is being treated as a missing person case by Saanich police and the RCMP. At some point police may conclude the man is presumed dead but that has not yet happened.

The missing man and his friend, also 20 and from Saanich, had set out in their canoe from Telegraph Bay Cove about 10: 30 p.m. Friday, intending to camp on a nearby island.

At 10:45 p.m., Saanich police received three separate calls reporting screams for help coming from offshore, Jantzen said.

The boaters, whose names were not disclosed by police pending notification of all family members, clung to a neon-green dry bag filled with camping supplies.

One of the men, found clinging to a rock near Todd Island, off Oak Bay, was rescued about 12:30 a.m. Saturday.

“[Apparently] they got separated from the bag and the survivor washed up onto the rock and the second just kept going by,” Jantzen said. “They maintained voice contact for some distance but after a short while . . . .”

The rescued man told police that the blue, fibreglass canoe sank after it was hit by a large wave.

The weather was good but the current and the waves were strong, Jantzen said. “The water whips around the southern part of the Island heading into the strait. The proof in the pudding is when the canoe was found near Race Rocks.”

At 4 p.m. Saturday, a fishboat located a similar canoe near Race Rocks. Police believe it’s the same boat although it has not yet been positively identified.

The men were not wearing personal floatation devices, police said.

“They were two good kids that maybe made some poor decisions,” Jantzen said. “When things go wrong on the water they can go really wrong really fast.”

The rescued man was taken to Royal Jubilee Hospital and treated for hypothermia. He was discharged at 2 a.m. Saturday.

Drugs and alcohol were not believed to be a factor, Jantzen said.

The missing man was last seen wearing a blue Umbro zip-up jacket.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

cclancy@timescolonist.com


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