Northern Alberta search and rescue crews looking for missing canoer

RCMP officers are searching the Athabasca River in northern Alberta for a missing canoer last seen around 12:15 p.m. on Saturday.

According to Mounties, a group of six canoers and a kayaker were on the Ells River, north of Fort MacKay, Alta., and near Daphne Island, for around an hour when the group lost sight of a pair of canoers together in a red 16-foot canoe.

Wood Buffalo RCMP conducted a boat and aerial search with the assistance of Fort McMurray Search and Rescue, Fort McMurray EMS, STARS Air Ambulance, and Syncrude Search and Rescue. Area community members completed additional ground searches.

At 4:15 p.m., searchers located the over-turned red canoe and the body of one of the missing boaters, an 80-year-old man, police said.

The search continues for the other canoer, a 45-year-old man. Both of the boaters in the red canoe were from Fort McMurray.

“Search efforts are continuing with the support of Civil Air Search and Rescue (CASARA) from Edmonton and the RCMP Air Service to search for the other missing boater,” police said in a statement Monday.

According to Cst. Patrick Lambert, the search area has been expanded by 100 kilometres and now includes sections of the Athabasca River due to the current and higher river levels.

Police are asking anyone on the river to make room for search teams and be aware of any signs of the missing boater, who was wearing an orange personal floatation device.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Wood Buffalo RCMP at 780-788-4040 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. Tips can also be submitted online

Fort MacKay is approximately 54 kilometres north of Fort McMurray.

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