A search-and-rescue operation is underway northeast of Edmonton, near Cold Lake, for a 17-year-old who was swept away by the river.
“Aaron was fishing with his little brother yesterday morning out at Beaver River, crossing at Cold Lake. They were fishing off the north bank of the river just past a bridge when he lost his footing and fell into this river,” community volunteer organizer Cathie-Leigh Humphreys said.
Cold Lake RCMP said officers were dispatched after the noon hour Saturday to help locate Aaron Thir.
The search was expanded to include the Canadian Armed Forces, Cold Lake Search and Rescue, Fire and Rescue Services, EMS and many community volunteers.
“Me and my family and about 20 volunteers I managed to round up last night at about eight o’clock started doing our own search,” Humphreys said.
A Facebook page called “Finding Aaron” was created to drum up support and create awareness.
The response, Humphreys said, has been overwhelming.
“We have probably 20 to 30 kayaks and canoes in the water right now, we have individual divers, civilian divers in the water right now looking, we have motorboats, we have quads, we have approximately 150 volunteers that are currently searching,” Humphreys said.
Police said dense brush and lack of trails have made the ground search difficult — something Humphreys can attest to.
“We are walking through treacherous, dangerous terrain, and they are all doing this voluntarily, they know the risks that they are taking, they are all aware that we are in the midst of a recovery operation more so than a rescue operation,” Humphreys said.
A helicopter was brought in for aerial support.
“My heart breaks for the reason that we’re here, and I think every person here is walking around with a broken heart,” Humphreys said.
Lloydminster search and rescue will also be joining the search.
A GoFundMe page has been created.