The parents of a missing Langford teenager are hoping the public can help them find their son.
Andre Courtemanche, 16, was last seen walking near the 2900-block of Cressida Crescent in Langford at around 7 p.m. on New Year’s Day.
His parents told CHEK News that their son struggles with depression and left their home after an argument. They also said he has left home before but this is the longest he has ever been gone and just want him back.
“Andre . . . we miss you so much. We want you to get help,” said his mother, Denise.
“Come home to us Andre,” added his father, Glenn.
Courtemanche is known to frequent parks and trails in Langford and the Victoria area and West Shore RCMP has asked people who use parks or trials in those areas to keep an eye out for him.
Although volunteers along with crews from Metchosin Search and Rescue and Juan De Fuca Search and Rescue have searched Thetis Lake and other areas in the region, Courtemanche remains missing.
His parents say their son would respond or accept help from strangers. They also believe it is possible that Andre is somewhere in the Cowichan Valley and are pleading with people to keep an eye out for him.
“Andre has now been gone so long that we need help looking for him in northern parts of the Island, in the Shawnigan Lake or Cowichan Lake area,” said Glenn. “I believe he is strong and healthy enough that he could have made it there.”
A Facebook page called Searching for Andre Courtemanche has also been created by family and friends in hopes that it will spark new information. Since it was created, more than 1,000 people have joined the page.
“We need that to keep going,” said Denise. “We need you to just keep looking in all different places that you can think of and anything that you think, even if it is small, just to report it to the place.”
West Shore RCMP told CHEK News that Courtemanche’s disappearance is not considered criminal or suspicious in nature, but remains concerned for his safety.
“Police are actively searching for him and following up on numerous tips received from the public. Search and rescue has been engaged with police and has been conducting searches, however, this has been somewhat difficult due to the last known sighting of Andre being on foot,” said Const. Nancy Sagger, adding. “It is unknown where Andre may have gone after this last known sighting.”
Unfortunately, Courtemanche is not the only missing person on Vancouver Island and departments across the Island routinely deal with missing person files.
According to Oak Bay Police Chief Ray Bernoties, the department gets back 17 missing person cases each year. He said the efforts to locate a missing person starts immediately.
“The first thing we really do is assess the risk,” Bernoties said. “It could include checking Canada Border Services, checking ferries, airports. Or if it’s a local missing in the area, it’s not uncommon for us to have a senior that is wandering.”
In those cases, the department may call in a police dog and set up a perimeter, in addition to making inquiries around the area, pulling video from nearby businesses and public buildings.
“We take all missing persons very seriously. It doesn’t matter if it’s a repeat person,” said Bernoties.
In addition to checking the missing person’s last whereabouts, and issuing media releases to notify the public, police departments will often request assistance from a number of agencies including search and rescue.
But sometimes even the most diligent searches come up empty.
“Sometimes we get people that run away. But it’s important for people to note that those are people who are often at greatest risk,” Bernoties said
For the Courtemanche’s parents, all they want is for their son to come home safe.
“We just want him back,” said an emotional Denise.
“We want to get him back safely and we need the help of everybody, please don’t stop looking for my son,” added Glen.
Courtemanche is approximately 5-foot-10 inches tall, roughly 185 pounds and has six to seven inches of long light brown hair and a light neckbeard. He was last seen wearing a blue and black plaid fleece coat, blue jogging pants, and brown hiking boots.
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Courtmanche is urged to contact police immediately or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).