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RCMP release more details of missing canoeist

New resident was homeless and looking for a place to live in Squamish



The search for a man who fell out of a canoe Monday afternoon in the Mamquam Blind Channel in Squamish has police following multiple leads.

Squamish RCMP has learned that the man was likely new to Squamish and had visited the Helping Hands shelter where he was asking about places to stay, including boats to stay on.

Sgt. Wayne Pride said the missing man borrowed a canoe to check out boats for sale on the Mamquam Blind Channel. During that paddle on Monday evening, the canoe tipped over and when the canoe was noticed overturned a call was placed by a concerned citizen to 911.

The original call for help resulted in a full air and water search of the Mamquam Blind Channel Monday evening, including a helicopter from the air force base in Comox, with no success. Pride said a team of RCMP divers did a meticulous and thorough search of the channel on Tuesday.

"They brought in the sonar in the evening," said Pride. "They put that on the boat. Underwater, that looks at everything."

According to Pride, they found a number of items using the sonar but no body was discovered.

"It is a very effective piece of equipment and they went through that area with a fine-tooth comb," Pride said.

On Monday night there were also reports that a man, who was soaking wet, was seen in the downtown area of Squamish about 6:30 p.m.

Based on a number of reports Pride said the search has now been expanded to the forested area around the downtown area of Squamish where homeless people are known to have camps.

"We talked to the missing person's section out of Surrey," Pride added. "They sent us information on one of their people that is missing."

In addition, Pride said two possible first names have emerged for the man, Henry or William (Bill).

The search continues on a number of fronts. Pride said efforts to locate a body in the water haven't completely wrapped up.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or the Squamish RCMP at 604-892-6100.

Reported June 4

The Squamish RCMP is looking into reports from people who have indicated they saw an elderly man in wet clothing in the downtown area of Squamish at 6:30 p.m. Monday evening, June 3.

Sgt. Wayne Pride of the Squamish RCMP said police hope that this may be the elderly man who was reported to have fallen out of a canoe Monday afternoon in the Mamquam Blind Channel. He said the reports of the sighting came about 15 minutes after the police received the original call to report the tipped-over canoe.

“We have a possible couple of first names so we’re pursuing that lead as well,” reported Pride.

While that angle is being checked, Pride said a RCMP dive team thoroughly checked the Mamquam Blind Channel today in the area where the overturned canoe was found .

“The water conditions are very good,” Pride said. “They’ve done a very meticulous search so far.”

Original report:

Witnesses reportedly saw a man in a canoe having some trouble in the Mamquam Blind Channel Monday afternoon. According to a rescue coordinator, the on-shore witnesses called 911 when they noticed the man’s canoe was upside down and he was nowhere to be seen.

Colin Henthorne of the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria said a search was started but suspended when no evidence of the man was found by searchers in the air and on the water.

“The canoe was found but the person was not,” said Henthorne.

He further explained that the witnesses who called for help said they saw the man struggling with the canoe. Moments later when they looked back, Henthorne said the witnesses noticed the canoe was upside down.

A Cormorant helicopter was dispatched from the Canadian Forces Base in Comox to the scene and it made many low passes over the Mamquam Blind Channel.

Squamish Search and Rescue volunteers launched a search boat while volunteers with the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue based in Squamish launched rescue vessels as well. A total of four boats were scouring the Blind Channel until darkness set in Monday night. The boats came to shore at about 10:30 p.m.

Henthorne said the search was handed over to the RCMP at 9:40 p.m.

Sgt. Wayne Pride of the Squamish RCMP said police are coordinated a recovery mission this morning, Tuesday, June 4.