UPDATE: Missing North Delta senior found deceased

88-year-old Jarnail Sanghera had been missing since the morning of Friday, May 15

88-year-old Jarnail Sanghera went missing near Nordel Way and 116th Street around 11 a.m. on May 15, 2020. (Delta Police Department photo)

Delta police say missing senior Jarnail Sanghera has been found deceased.

Police were called to a remote wooded corner of a business property in the 10000-block of River Way on Sunday night (May 24), where officers located the body of the missing 88-year-old. DPD officers secured the scene and the Integrated Forensic Investigative Services team was called in.

Sanghera’s family was notified that night. DPD victim services has been working with the family since, and will continue to offer support.

“At this time foul play is not suspected,” Cris Leykauf, public affairs manager for the Delta Police Department, said in a press release.

In a Facebook post early Monday morning, Sanghera’s family remembered “Papa Ji” as a loving father, grandfather and great-grandfather who “absolutely loved nature and all animals.”

“He has left behind a heartbroken family who adores him and will carry on his legacy,” the post reads. “He’s probably smiling down on us, witnessing our community come together in an attempt to find him.

“Thank you to all the individuals who helped us in our efforts to find our Papa ji. We felt your love and support throughout this past week. We saw the community come together in a heart-warming way.

“Even though Papa Ji is no longer with us, he can finally be at peace. We as as family were truly heart-warmed by all of your efforts and will forever be thankful.”

Sanghera, who suffered from dementia and diabetes and required medication, went missing the morning of Friday, May 15 after leaving his family residence near Nordel Way and 116th Avenue. Police, family and numerous volunteers had spent the last 10 days searching North Delta and nearby parts of Surrey for the missing man.

“The search for Mr. Sanghera was the top priority for the Delta Police [Department] these past 10 days, with significant resources redirected to the effort to find him,” Leykauf said.

South Fraser Search and Rescue (SFSAR) was called out three times, with 78 searchers deployed over an extensive area that included riverbanks and coastlines. Police dogs were also brought out and Air 1, one of two local RCMP helicopters, aided with the search four times.

“We’d like to thank the Surrey RCMP, City of Surrey, and Metro Vancouver Transit Police’s physical security department for their assistance on this file as they pulled and reviewed video and checked many areas,” Leykauf said. “And we want to recognize the Commercial Vehicle Inspector who even came in on his anniversary to pull video. So many individuals, businesses and community groups contributed to the effort to find Mr. Sanghera.”

Police say a number of people expressed interest in volunteering and organizing searches, however in cases such as these the DPD relies on SFSAR, which is comprised of highly-trained and equipped volunteers who conduct grid searches and provide police with a detailed map of search efforts.

Police say a search of this scale requires they prioritize resources, devoting efforts to work off of the last confirmed sighting of the individual in question, and this must be done in a systematic way.

Further, there can be liability and safety considerations, as well as logistical issues, associated with using untrained volunteers.

“Although this search had an unfortunate outcome, we do want to underscore the importance video footage plays in this type of search,” Leykauf said. “If you have a property in Delta with CCTV cameras, please consider registering for our Community Watch program. This helps save police time, and provides a contact person and phone number that police can call to request video footage.”

Leykauf also recommends that families with loved ones experiencing dementia or Alzheimer’s consider registering with a program such as Project Lifesaver — which endorsed by South Fraser Search and Rescue — or using GPS trackers to help monitor their loved ones if they are prone to wandering.

On Monday (May 25), the family of Jarnail Sanghera started a petition on change.org asking B.C.’s Minister of Public Safety to create a province-wide “Silver Alert” program for individuals with dementia and other cognitive issues who go missing.

“Our grandfather with dementia went missing and he was found deceased nine days later. We want to prevent this from happening to any other family. BC Silver Alert has been attempting to do this but they need more support,” the petition says.

“There needs to be an instant message sent via text to all members of the community and social media as soon an vulnerable individual goes missing.”

As of 10:20 a.m. Tuesday morning, the petition had over 7,750 signatures, with more coming in every minute.

The family’s petition can be found at change.org/p/minister-of-public-safety-of-bc-create-a-silver-alert-system-to-help-find-vulnerable-people.


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