NWT RCMP searching vast area for possible lost snowmobiler

A file photo of the Hay River RCMP detachment in November 2018. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio
The Hay River RCMP detachment. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio

RCMP are coordinating search and rescue efforts across a vast area for a snowmobiler they believe may be lost.

A caller identifying themselves as Shawn Lafferty, 20 years old, got in touch with Hay River RCMP late on Monday evening – but a poor signal meant communication with Lafferty was difficult, police said in a statement on Tuesday.

Unable to confirm Lafferty’s details or whereabouts, police checked the origin of the call and found it came from a cell tower near Behchokǫ̀.

“RCMP have an active search and rescue in the areas surrounding Behchokǫ̀ and Whatì, concentrating on areas with cabins,” police said. “This includes an air search and ground search teams.”



Despite the cell signal clue, police believe Lafferty could be anywhere between Yellowknife, Hay River, Fort Providence, Behchokǫ̀, and Whatì. A broader search and rescue effort between all five communities is also under way.

There is no physical description available of the man, though police said he may be using a blue Polaris 550 machine and could be wearing a red jacket, red hat, orange mitts, and orange scarf.

If you know Shawn, or know where he is, please call RCMP on 867-392-1111 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS.

Cold weather

“While we have relatively little to go on at this point, we are asking the public to be alert to the possibility that a traveller may have accessed a refuge from the cold weather,” said Marie York-Condon, a spokesperson for NWT RCMP, in Tuesday’s news release.



“They could be on any of the trails between Yellowknife, Fort Providence, Behchokǫ̀, Whatì, and Hay River. The direction of travel is unknown, which hampers search and rescue efforts,” York-Condon continued.

“We just want to hear from Shawn, if that is who called in, or whomever may have placed a call to the RCMP in distress just before midnight last night.”

If you were out on Monday night and saw a lone male travelling by snow machine anywhere in the area described above, contact RCMP.

Police urged members of the public not to begin their own search, citing the cold weather and risks involved.

Temperatures in the North Slave have not risen above -27C in the past 24 hours.

“RCMP will take all reported sightings to coordinate the launching of a targeted search and rescue if a point of departure and date and time last seen can be confirmed,” read Tuesday’s statement.