Saskatoon StarPhoenix

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,

 ?? Photo courtesy Saskatoon RCMP ?? Saskatoon RCMP Cpl. Doug Nordick searches a grassy area
of the South Saskatchew­an River on June 27.
Photo courtesy Saskatoon RCMP Saskatoon RCMP Cpl. Doug Nordick searches a grassy area of the South Saskatchew­an River on June 27.

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