Son asks for info about missing father last piloting a boat to French Creek

Son asks for info about missing father last piloting a boat to French Creek
Mark Braunagel was last seen leaving Texada Island on Oct. 15.

A Nanaimo man is hoping for information that will help find his father, who hasn’t been seen since leaving Texada Island on his boat on Oct. 16.

Jake Whitcomb says he can’t help but wonder if his father 52-year-old Mark Braunagel from Port Alberni might still be alive

“We’re hoping that a search is still ongoing, both on the shores, on the water. We’re not sure yet but I hope it’s being searched under the water for a wreck. We don’t have a lot of answers,” said Whitcomb.

It was Sunday Oct. 15 when Braunagel set out for French Creek from Texada Island on a 12-metre trawler, a boat he had recently purchased.

Story continues below

Mark Brauagel Texada Island French Creek

A picture of the 12 metre trawler before Mark Braunagel left Texada Island for French Creek. (Submitted photo)

He sent a text message and a picture to a friend at 6:30 that night.

Story continues below

The picture Mark Braunagel sent a friend en route to French Creek. (Submitted photo)

All appeared to be going well but everything took a turn for the worse within hours.

“We know a mayday call went out Oct. 16 at 2:55 am that the engines had stopped working and that the boat was taking on water with two aboard as well as my dad’s dog. From there we don’t have much more information,” said Whitcomb.

Whitcomb says his father was able to relay that he and the other man on board were wearing lifejackets and they were south of Hornby Island.

Then on Oct. 22 a man’s body was found in the waters off Gabriola Island. His family has identified him as 57-year-old Jean-Francois Cyr of Texada Island. He was the other person on board Braunagel’s boat.

Story continues below

A picture of Jean-Francois Cyr provided by a family member

Whitcomb says that’s where the information stops.

“We don’t have any information about a wreck, them finding a boat, any debris, anything at all so we’re hoping somebody has stumbled across something,” said Whitcomb.

The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre says when it got the distress call at 1:50 Oct.16 and it disptached two cormorants from CFB Comox, two Canadian Coast Guard boats and Royal Canadian Marine Search units from Comox and Lasqueti. It says crews searched for 14 hours with no vessel or signs of it spotted.

Last week, after the U.S. Coast Guard had suspended search for a crew that left from Grays Harbor, a fishing crew found a man in a dinghy west of Ucluelet after drifting 13 days at sea. Whitcomb says the story gives him hope.

“My dad’s really special to me. Toughest guy I know so if anybody’s still out there, if anybody could do it it would be him,” said Whitcomb.

Whitcomb says as his father’s only son he’s desperate for more information and will continue to hope that he’ll be found alive.

On Nov. 1, Powell River RCMP put out a notice that Braunagel was missing and is asking for the public’s assistance. Anyone who finds evidence of a boat wreckage is asked to call Powell River RCMP at 604-485-6255.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!