Man found safe after large river search Saturday night in Courtenay

Man found safe after large river search Saturday night in Courtenay

The Courtenay Fire Department and Comox Valley Search and Rescue were called to the Courtenay River Saturday night after reports that a man fleeing police had jumped or fallen into the frigid water.

“Our members were conducting some patrols in the downtown area and identified a suspect in an investigation they were working on, and when the suspect noticed the police officers, the suspect ended up fleeing on foot,” Comox Valley RCMP Sgt. Aaron Hamilton told CHEK News.

After fleeing police, it was believed he went to the end of 6th Street near Home Hardware and jumped or fell into the Courtenay River.

The water is cold and fast-moving, so the concern was that he could be swept away in the current.

“We’ve got a swift water team out, and they’re out searching the river and the estuary, and we’ve also got two other teams doing the banks on either side,” said Chris Dicks, Search Manager with Comox Valley Search and Rescue.

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The river conditions at this time of year would make it extremely difficult for someone to survive very long if they can’t get out.

“Depends on the clothing they’ve got on because the probability is they don’t have a life jacket, so they’re going to have to be swimming,” added Dicks.

An RCMP dog team found an article of the suspect’s clothing by the river, adding to their suspicion that he’d gone in.

The search continued down the river and out into the Courtenay Estuary for several hours Saturday night without finding him.

“We weren’t able to locate the individual last night,” said Hamilton. “We continued to make patrols and inquiries last night and this morning, and, fortunately, were able to locate the individual and confirm that they are safe and they’re fine.”

With the help of community contacts and family members, police were able to track down the man this morning, but they say it’s still unclear if he actually had gone into the river.

They say they had no choice but to launch a large search.

“Oh, absolutely. We had the assumption with that article of clothing that was found on the bank that the possibility existed, and we wanted to make sure we covered all the bases we could,” said Hamilton.

Police would not comment on what the initial investigation was about.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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