OWEN SOUND, Ont. – Police in Ontario said there is no indication of foul play in the death of a 19-year-old soldier from Nova Scotia, whose body was found along a rugged shoreline of Georgian Bay following a nearly week-long search.
During a news conference Friday, Owen Sound police Chief Bill Sornberger said the body of Pte. Andrew Fitzgerald was recovered Thursday following a search that involved Canadian Armed Forces, Ontario Provincial Police and Owen Sound police.
“There is no indication of foul play in this investigation and we are no longer searching for Andrew Fitzgerald,” said Sornberger.
Sornberger said the six-day search was unprecedented in Owen Sound, and officers had remained hopeful that Fitzgerald would be found alive.
He said the body was found along the shore near a water treatment facility on the Owen Sound harbour.
“The body was located on the shore just in the water,” he said, adding the area was about two kilometres from a gas station in Owen Sound where Fitzgerald was last seen on Saturday.
Sornberger said the investigation was ongoing, and police still needed to talk to a few people who knew the young soldier who had been out celebrating his graduation from basic military training.
He said a post-mortem examination was expected to be conducted over the weekend.
Fitzgerald, who is from Cape North, N.S., graduated from an infantry course last Friday at 4th Canadian Division Training Centre in nearby Meaford, Ont.
The base commander said Fitzgerald was a member of the Royal Canadian Regiment and was assigned to serve with the 2nd Batallion in Gagetown, N.B., but was never deployed.
Lt.-Col. Christian Lillington said while military personnel took part in the search, local police were handling the investigation. He said the military is focused on providing help for those who knew Fitzgerald.
“The Canadian Armed Forces is providing direct support to Andrew’s family and friends with compassionate assistance during this most difficult time,” he said.
The search for Fitzgerald had galvanized the community, located on the southern shore of Georgian Bay.
“The generosity of the community in Owen Sound, even as commented to me by (Fitzgerald’s) parents before they departed…was overwhelming,” said Lillington. “It was very supportive, people were very compassionate. And it certainly represents sort of what we all love as being Canadian.”
In a statement, Owen Sound Mayor Ian Boddy expressed condolences to the Fitzgerald family.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Private Fitzgerald’s family and friends. At a time they should be celebrating his graduation, they are now enduring agony. Our community offers our support at this tragic time.”