Calgary, AB,

Seventh annual Bow River search to take place Thursday

Once again, searchers from the Calgary area will come together to search the Bow River and its banks for any signs of people who may have gone missing. This year’s search will begin at 9:30 a.m., on Thursday, Sept. 16, and will start at the Fish Creek Boat Launch, at the south end of the city.

This year brings together members of the Calgary Police Service (CPS), the Calgary Fire Department (CFD), the RCMP, Calgary Search and Rescue Association (CALSARA), Cochrane Fire Services (CFS), along with a new partner, Environmental Enforcement Branch Conservation Officers. TransAlta is also supporting this initiative by monitoring and adjusting the river’s flow rate to aid in the search.

CPS will use HAWCS to conduct an aerial search, while CPS, CFD, CFS and CALSARA conduct ground and water searches of the Bow River and its banks.

This year’s search will focus on the river and its banks in the south part of the city. While CPS, CFD, CFS and CALSARA search the Bow River within the Calgary city limits, the Alberta RCMP Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains Unit will deploy the RCMP helicopter, weather permitting, along the Bow River from the southern city limits and continue east toward the Saskatchewan border.

CPS and CFD routinely monitor the river throughout the year, however, a thorough search is being conducted in September as water levels are at their lowest and clearest at this time of year.

"Nearly 6,000 people were reported missing in Calgary last year. Most are safely located, however it is a tragic reality that a small number of those individuals enter our waterways – either voluntarily or involuntarily – and have not yet been located,” said Staff Sergeant Martin Schiavetta of the Calgary Police Service Homicide Unit. “This annual search brings together skilled searchers from a number of organizations in hopes of providing answers to the families of missing people.”

“The Calgary Fire Department is committed to doing all we can to help our partner agencies in these searches. We cannot imagine the feelings of loss and helplessness families experience, not being able to put their loved one to rest,” said Carol Henke, Public Information Officer of the Calgary Fire Department.

“Alberta RCMP’s Missing Persons Unit values our partnership with the Calgary Police Service, in these search efforts,” said Staff Sergeant Jason Zazulak of the Alberta RCMP Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains Unit. “This operation is an important investigative avenue that we explore in hopes of obtaining information that will help provide families and loved ones with the answers they seek.”

"Calgary Search and Rescue is happy to aid our tasking agencies with the annual Bow River search. Any opportunity we can get to bring closure to families in relation to missing persons, is a step in the right direction. Our Team of over 70 trained volunteers is ready year-round to assist when called," said Carolyn Bouwsema, Community Relations Director of CALSARA.

“Cochrane Fire Services and our Technical Rescue Team members are pleased to assist our partner agencies in the search for missing persons in the Bow River, and we hope we are able to help bring closure to grieving families and friends,” said Jeff Avery, Public Information Officer with Cochrane Fire Services.

In the event the weather does not permit aerial search efforts, the ground and water searches will still be carried out within city limits. Should any remains be located during the search, CPS would work with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to determine the identity of the individual and ensure no criminal offence has been committed.