You don’t have to wait 24 hours to report a loved one missing, according to the Central Okanagan Search and Rescue and Kelowna RCMP.
This was the take away from an incident in Ellison over the weekend which saw a 40-year-old man from Kelowna die while apparently out looking for firewood near James Lake—and remain missing for nearly 24 hours.
Accessed via Bata Road in the hills behind Sunset Ranch Golf and Country Club, the James Lake area is a heavily wooded enclave patterned with small dirt side roads that would make a search a difficult task, particularly as the authorities were not contacted until six hours after the individual, whose name has not been released to media, was due back.
“Obviously, I don’t want to put any blame on the family,” said Const. Kris Clark, Kelowna RCMP spokesman. “…But those are daylight hours that we could have been searching.”
The man left home on Saturday morning and was expected to return around 3 p.m. He was reported missing to Kelowna RCMP close to 9 p.m. at night.
The police initiated a ground search immediately, but quickly recognized they would need more personnel. Central Okanagan Search and Rescue was called in shortly before 1 a.m. Sunday morning and Vernon Search and Rescue was en route when the body was located very close to the man’s vehicle on a side road in the area. It was 4:45 a.m.
Clark said television shows portray police as wanting loved ones to wait 24, or sometimes 48 hours, before contacting police, but it’s really best to call as soon as one perceives there to be a problem. There are no repercussions if a person reported missing is found immediately.
A statement issued Monday morning indicates the search and rescue team is of the same mind.
“Please call the RCMP so they can call the closest search and rescue group and we can start looking for your loved ones and bring them home,” said Duane Tresnich, spokesperson for Central Okanagan Search and Rescue, in a press release emphasizing the importance of a timely response.
This search involved RCMP, two search and rescue trucks and four all-terrain vehicles.
Both the RCMP and coroner are said to be investigating. RCMP have found nothing suspicious about the death thus far.