Two years after her daughter’s disappearance, a woman from Chilliwack, B.C., is calling for a new tool to help find missing adults.
While the search for Shaelene Bell ended in tragedy, her mother says an alert system could keep other families from losing their loved ones.
British Columbia already uses an emergency notification system for things like tsunamis, tornadoes and Amber alerts.
Bell’s mother Alina Durham believes a similar system could be implemented for missing adults who are in imminent danger.
“Imminent danger is like in my daughter’s case, where it was so out of character for her to go missing,” she said. “That that was a red flag right there and that’s what we are looking for.”
Monday marked the two-year anniversary of Bell’s disappearance.
On June 2, 2021, the 23-year-old mother of two’s body was found in the Fraser River near Coquitlam. Foul play was not suspected.
There have been similar calls for B.C. to implement a “silver alert” for missing people with dementia or other cognitive disabilities.
Sam Noh’s 64-year-old father Shin Noh went missing in Coquitlam in September 2013 and has never been found. Since then, Sam has become a vocal advocate for the silver alert idea.
He said he understands concerns about alerts potentially desensitizing the public, but believes technology can address those issues.
“I can understand the concern of alert fatigue but I believe it can be alleviated, you can geotarget alerts, you don’t have to notify the whole province,” he said.
“Typically Alzheimer’s patients don’t wander far from the last point that they were seen, so there could be some strategy in place.”
The existing Amber alert system is voluntary between law enforcement and partner agencies.
Meanwhile, Durham held a vigil Monday to mark the second anniversary of her daughter’s tragedy, and to push for federal legislation to include missing adults in imminent danger in the national public alerting system.
“Stop and think if it’s your family or your loved one,” she said. “It just has to be done.”
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