Watch above: Police, fire crews, and park rangers spent the day searching the North Saskatchewan River shoreline in the hopes of solving missing persons cases. Quinn Ohler reports.
EDMONTON – For the first time, a new initiative will see Edmonton police, along with several other organizations, conduct a search of the North Saskatchewan River shoreline to locate any potential human remains.
Wednesday’s exercise is led by the EPS Missing Persons Unit. It also involves police helicopter Air 1, the Edmonton Fire and Rescue boat, and City of Edmonton park rangers.
“This is a first-time initiative that will focus resources on searching the river and its shoreline for possible human remains from one end of the city to the other,” said EPS Const. Cory Kerr, of the service’s Missing Persons Unit.
Emergency officials say they aren’t searching for anyone in particular. Within 15 minutes of launching their boats early Wednesday morning, Edmonton Fire Rescue crews pulled the body of a man out of the river.
Police aren’t releasing any details surrounding the man’s death, only saying they don’t believe it’s a historical missing persons case.
“Timely, yes. But had we not been out there, we may never have known what happened to that individual,” said Sgt. Neil Zurawell, of the EPS’s Missing Persons Unit.
The sweep runs in conjunction with an RCMP search of the river outside city limits.
The RCMP says the purpose of its search is to give EPS and RCMP the opportunity to possibly recover the remains of one or more missing people who “entered the river at some point.” Officers said this time of year is a good time to conduct the search because the water level of the North Saskatchewan River is at its lowest and clearest.
“This is a proactive deployment of multiple ground and air resources for one day, which will focus specifically on a primary river artery that travels through our city,” said Kerr.
The sweep started at the EPS boat launch, located near the EPCOR water treatment facility, and fanned out east and west along the river shoreline.
Kerr is hopeful the initiative will become an annual one.
The EPS has 86 open missing persons files dating back to the 1970s.
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