Unmanned boat prompts search for man declared missing near Royston

Unmanned boat prompts search for man declared missing near Royston

Police say a man who was reported missing near Royston over the weekend has been located.



This story has been updated to reflect that Christopher Mitchell has been found however at the family’s request, no more information is being released. The original story is preserved below.

The Comox Valley RCMP received a call Friday morning about an unmanned row boat floating in the ocean near Royston.

Shortly after, police notified the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) who launched a search of the area, but returned empty-handed.

Later that morning, a 37-year-old man, Christopher Mitchell, was reported missing, after he allegedly paddled off in the middle of the night in the 14 to 16 ft rowboat.

The JRCC dispatched a cormorant search and rescue helicopter from 442 Squadron at 19 Wing Comox along with Coast Guard vessels from Campbell River and French Creek.

Members of the Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue team combed the shorelines and 2 vessels from RCM SAR Station 60 in Comox were also dispatched.

“There’s lots of factors to take into account. The wind, the current, you know whether the vessel could drift. So basically they assigned us to a certain place where the boat might end up,” said RCM SAR President Roch Massicotte.

But nothing was found and the search was called off Friday afternoon.

Then Saturday morning, the rowboat was found tied up in the Comox Marina.

Police have retrieved it and confirm it is the missing man’s, but Mitchell is still unaccounted for.

SAR officials say someone may have pulled it in, not knowing it was the subject of a large search.

Anyone with info on either the boat or Mitchell’s whereabouts is encouraged to phone the Comox Valley RCMP and refer to file 2023-3957.

Roger CollinsRoger Collins
Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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