More than 60 people showed up Saturday morning at Wildwood Church in Whonnock for a final search for missing Maple Ridge senior Tjeerd ‘Ted’ Vanderveen.
“The amount of community support has been overwhelming,” said Megan Oliver, who started the Facebook page Uncle Ted Search Info Group.
The number of people helping Saturday almost tripled from last week’s organized search, indicating how the word of Vanderveen’s disappearance has taken a long time to spread, she said.
The 72-year-old, who suffers from dementia, went missing on Nov. 28 after he went for a walk in the Ferguson Trails area, near his house in the 26500 block of 112th Avenue. The search by emergency responders lasted two days and involved area search teams, a helicopter and a police dog. Police are now treating it as a missing persons case, and the search has continued by family, friends and volunteers.
Some of the missing man’s family attended the meeting Saturday and thanked volunteers for their help and support. They reiterated how grateful they were for how quickly police and Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue came after Vanderveen disappeared.
They shared that after Saturday’s search, they will be pulling back, and would appreciate some privacy and time to rest.
Ryan McEachern said Friday was the first day that he did not meet people on the trails who were unaware Vanderveen went missing. He has compiled information from family, SAR and other searchers onto a master map.
“There is a lot to be learned from this tragic experience” said Oliver. “To still be meeting people in our community that do not know of his disappearance a week ago, signals a need to review how information is transmitted, who it reaches and how quickly it can be sent.”
She suggested local schools and community organizations could be notified to spread the word. She is encouraging the public to lobby mayor and council for a review of methods of communication and what improvements can be made, and also ask how the province can help find missing seniors. School board trustee Pascale Shaw, a Whonnock resident, has called for a silver alert notification system for missing seniors and adults.
Yellow ribbons were handed out to searchers walking near homes. Home owners are being asked to put up the ribbon on the front of their gates or fence, to indicate that they have checked their property thoroughly. Anyone who is unable to physically check their property is welcome to contact the Facebook group and ask for help.