RCMP officers search rivers for remains of five people
A search for the remains of five people who RCMP believe to have died in the South Saskatchewan River continues.
The Saskatoon RCMP Historical Case Unit (HCU) conducted a search by boat on the South Saskatchewan River for the remains of Peter James Mckay, Marc April, Preston Wayne Waldner, Gordon Keith Harvey and Hamza Alsharief from June 25 to 27, stated in an RCMP news release on Monday.
While the individuals were an important part of the search, RCMP also conducted an overall search of the area for anything of interest.
“This is what we consider a proactive river search,” said Cpl. Simon Pillay, an officer assigned to the Historical Case Unit.
“We’re not after one particular individual or file, its just to see what we can recover and essentially clear the river as well as we can. We don’t ever abandon hope on these files. All we do is pursue the long shot,” said Pillay.
HCU investigators searched the South Saskatchewan River from Saskatoon and continued 248 kilometres north to a location north of the forks where the North and South Saskatchewan River meet.
Investigators camped along the river and worked extended hours as thunderstorms and tornado warnings slightly hampered search efforts but RCMP said their geographic objective was met.
No human remains were located, however one piece of clothing was found and is being investigated.
RCMP partnered with the Canadian Forces where various vessels and equip- ment was borrowed to conduct the search.
“We see a river search by boat much more effective as a river search by air but the reality is we’re not equipped to carry out this type of work, which is why we had to rely on the Cana- dian forces,” said Pillay.
Hamza Alsharief, a University of Saskatchewan engineering student, disappeared Dec. 14 last year after writing a final on campus.
Police believe no foul play was involved in his disap- pearance since there were no signs of a scuffle or dispute at his residence.
His wallet and identification were left in his home and his bank account has remained untouched.
Police later revealed a jacket matching the description of one owned by Alsharief had been found on the CP train bridge around the time he disappeared, but the jacket had been removed from the bridge before it was reported to the police.
U of S associate vicepresident of student affairs David Hannah said Alsharief was not having academic troubles before he disappeared and he was a third-year student who seemed comfortable in his surroundings.
HCU is responsible for the investigation of unsolved homicides, long term missing persons and found unidentified human remains occurring in the jurisdiction of Saskatoon to the Northwest Territories border of northern Saskatchewan.
Pillay said that it is never too late to search bodies of water for remains as sometimes there has been remains discovered after a decade.
Since 2000, HCU has conducted air searches of the South Saskatchewan River and other bodies of water that are believed to contain missing human remains.
RCMP would like to remind the public that recreational swimming is discouraged in the South Saskatchewan River as there are dangerously strong currents.
Swimming within the city limits of Saskatoon is also prohibited by municipal bylaw.
The missing people can be viewed on the Saskatchewan Association of Chiefs of Police website by visiting, www.sacp.ca