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Dehcho

Search continues for missing man whose rental car was found empty

Last modified: June 16, 2022 at 4:59pm


RCMP said on Thursday the search continues for a 65-year-old considered missing after his overdue rental vehicle was found unoccupied.

In a brief update on Thursday morning, police said efforts to find Anthony McLaughlin, who was first reported missing by police on Wednesday, continue. “No new update is available,” RCMP said.

Officers in the Dehcho community earlier said they began efforts to find McLaughlin when his rental was not returned on time to Fort Nelson, BC, the nearest community south of Fort Liard by road.

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At Visa Rentals and Leasing in Fort Nelson, representative Wendy Young said McLaughlin is a resident of Fort Nelson and a regular customer at the branch.

Nothing seemed unusual about his latest rental, a half-ton truck, Young said, adding she does not know McLaughlin personally but understands him to be semi-retired.

“RCMP determined that McLaughlin had been in the Fort Liard area hiking,” an RCMP news release stated.

A search and rescue effort began on Wednesday in the area surrounding the location of the unoccupied rental vehicle.

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Mike Gonet of Level Up Contracting. Caitrin Pilkington/Cabin Radio

Mike Gonet is a contractor and park operator for Blackstone Territorial Park who lives in Fort Liard. He said he knows the search area, a nearby woodlot, well. He gathered wood there all winter.

“There’s lots of trails back there that we made,” he said. “Even us, when we were back there, we could get lost very easily there because there’s so many trails. It’s not a typical hiking spot. I don’t know why he would even go in there.

“ENR will go in to set mice traps, but even they don’t go as far as we do to cut wood. If he got onto one of those trails and didn’t know where to go… they zigzag back and forth across each other.”

Gonet says the search and rescue team has been using ATVs, but these vehicles will not be able to cover the full extent of the area.

“They were out looking on quads today, but with quads, you can only go so far. It’s all walking trails, pretty-well, now because of the overgrowth.”

Gonet speculated that the area could be dangerous in springtime.

“There’s a lot of bears in the area. We came across two or three bear dens while we were cutting. And this time of year, they all have young ones, so… it’s hard to say what happened.”

If you have information that can help police find McLaughlin, call the Fort Liard detachment at (867) 770-1111 or leave a tip anonymously.

Caitrin Pilkington contributed reporting.

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