News » Whistler

Seven-year-old girl found dead in Howe Sound, dad still missing

Abandoned sport boat was found near Anvil Island late Saturday



A seven-year-old girl has died in a boating incident on Howe Sound, while her father is still missing.

The girl's body was found floating near the eastern shore of Gambier Island just before 11:30 p.m. on Saturday. July 25, hours after a man discovered an abandoned sport boat and notified authorities.

The search continues for the girl's father, identified in other media outlets as 60-year-old North Vancouver man William Liebenberg. On Monday, a family friend confirmed the dentist's identity in The Vancouver Sun as well as that of his daughter, Maddy.

The father and daughter reportedly set off from the Lions Bay Marina Saturday, but the 20-foot boat did not return. It was discovered adrift at approximately 9 p.m. by another boater.

“It had piqued the interest of a fellow boater because he could see the engine was in the water but there was nobody onboard,” said Naval Lt. Paul Trenholm at the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Victoria. “When he had a closer look he could see the keys were in the ignition and, with some personal effects onboard the boat, it lent itself to the idea that maybe someone was missing.”

The family reportedly has a cabin on Gambier Island and visited it often over the past several years.

Now, search crews continue to scour the area for any sign of Liebenberg.

“We hope maybe your readers can help us with any additional information to put a good news end to this story,” Trenholm said.

The rectangular search zone has been expanded to cover an area from Horseshoe Bay to Squamish, and from McNab Creek to Bowen Island, said Trenholm.

Several marine units and aircraft have been activated for the search, including two hovercrafts, a helicopter and a DHC-5 Buffalo plane.

Anyone with additional information is asked to contact the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre at 250-413-8937 or the RCMP.