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Alert proposed to find missing B.C. seniors

Jeremy Nuttall

By Jeremy Nuttall, 24 hours Vancouver

Shin Noh was last seen in Coquitlam.

Shin Noh was last seen in Coquitlam. (RCMP HANDOUT)

Sam Noh says the last six months have been torture since his father disappeared and he hopes a new bill introduced in Victoria Tuesday will spare other families the same anguish.

Noh’s father Shin suffers from Alzheimer’s and was last seen heading towards Burke Mountain in Coquitlam, but people who saw him had no idea his family was frantically searching for the 65-year-old.

The private members bill, introduced by Coquitlam-Maillardville MLA Selina Robinson, advocates for establishing a Silver Alert system similar to the Amber Alert used to quickly locate missing children.

The Silver Alert would help locate seniors and Noh said his father would have been found had it been in place in September because those who had seen him would have known to alert police.

His father remains missing and the family has never had closure.

“It’s anguish and torture, it’s hard to describe,” Noh said. “We want to save other families from this, many more will wander.”

Robinson said the number of people with Alzheimer’s in the province is expected to reach 177,000 in the next 20 years and the Silver Alert program has been successful in a number of areas in the U.S.

She pointed to the loss of two other seniors in Metro Vancouver during the last year — people who died after wandering away from their homes.

She said the response from the community to help find Shin Noh was strong and saw hundreds of volunteers search for him — a response she said could be harnessed.

“People wanted to help, and if people want to help why aren’t we asking them to help?” Robinson said. “Police can’t do it all on their own, and search and rescue can’t do it all on their own, we need the community to help.”

RCMP Sgt. Peter Thiessen said the force would welcome any tools to help find missing persons.

Robinson said she expects to meet with Health Minister Terry Lake to further discuss the program.


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