(Denise Titan photo)
Dozens of volunteers are searching the water and shoreline around Flores and Vargas Islands after an Ahousaht man failed to show up after heading out in a canoe to go fishing.
According to Katelyn Moores of the JRCC (Joint Rescue Coordination Centre) based in Victoria, the missing man left Ahousaht, located on Flores Island, in a canoe at about 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 22.
“He was going fishing and was expected to return in about an hour,” Moores told Ha-Shilth-Sa in a phone interview.
When he failed to return a few hours later the Canadian Coast Guard and the RCMP were notified.
“At 4:16 p.m. yesterday (July 22), the Victoria Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) was notified of an overdue canoe with one person on board off Flores Island,” said Moores.
She went on to say that the Canadian Coast Guard Prince Rupert Marine Communication and Traffic Services issued an urgency broadcast with negative results. The broadcast, said Moore, is like a pan-pan, where a radio message is sent requesting an immediate response.
Several volunteers from both Ahousaht and neighboring Tla-o-qui-aht joined in the search, bringing boats and searchers to comb the beaches.
“The Victoria JRCC tasked Canadian Coast Guard vessels Cape Anne and Tofino 1 and a Cormorant helicopter from 442 Squadron at Canadian Forces Base Comox to respond,” said Moore. In addition, the local R.C.M.P. dispatched a helicopter.
Moore confirmed that the canoe was located along with a paddle and some personal belongings. The items were in the water but she could not provide details about the specific location.
The search continued until dark on Sunday and resumed, Monday morning, with Ahousaht Emergency Operations Centre requesting volunteers to help with the search.
Moore says the search is concentrated around Flores Island and areas where tidal conditions and wind could carry debris.
The Tofino RCMP had no information to share with media.