COLD LAKE – Authorities continue to search for 17-year-old Aaron Thir who fell into the Beaver River late Saturday morning.
While the civilian search was called-off on Sunday night for safety reasons, authorities continue to search the area for the missing teen on Monday.
Volunteers and local authorities spent the weekend looking for Thir after he lost his footing and fell into the Beaver River while fishing with his brother.
“The current carried him away. His brother did go into the water and attempted to save him for as long as he could, however he was unsuccessful and watched as this young man went under the water,” volunteer search organizer Cathie Humphreys told Lakeland This Week. “He hasn’t been seen since.”
Thir and his brother were fishing near the Hwy. 897 bridge. Over the weekend, search crews scoured the location, both water and land, in search of the missing teen who has red hair, is approximately 5’7” tall and weighs 120 lbs. He has black round glasses, and was wearing a grey t-shirt, shorts, and no shoes.
The search started on Saturday with volunteers, Cold Lake RCMP, and local search and rescue, however, Humphreys said, they were called off “for whatever reasons search and rescue and the RCMP decided."
According to an RCMP media release, “Dense brush and lack of trails have made the ground search difficult. Swift currents within the river, logs, and rocks in the water made the water treacherous for the searchers.”
Humphreys said, “By no means... will we ever undermine the efforts that were done yesterday (Saturday). We know they searched for as long as they could with all that they could, and we respect and appreciate that as much as we hope that they respect and appreciate that we have a community willing to do the same.”
She added, “We’re just a community at this point that wants to bring a mama some peace.”
Volunteers continued searching the shoreline, starting early Sunday morning.
By afternoon, 4-Wing Cold Lake stepped in and offered their help and deployed their helicopter, search boat, and ground unit.
Cold Lake RCMP, Cold Lake Fire Rescue, Cold Lake Search and Rescue (SAR), K-9 Promotions, a heat-seeking drone operator, the City of Cold Lake, MD of Bonnyville peace officers, RCMP, Lloydminster SAR, Cold Lake EMS, and over 200 volunteers were involved in the search.
At approximately 10:49 p.m. on Sunday, Humphreys shared a video on Finding Aaron, a social media page meant to keep the community informed on search efforts.
“We had to call off the search, not because we found Aaron, we still haven’t found Aaron, we did it because we know we’re doing a recovery effort for a family,” Humphreys said in the video. “The decision to call off the search this evening, was not made lightly, it was not made easily."
She continued, “We did not fail tonight, and I know you are all feeling slightly failed because we did not find Aaron, but we did make things happen today. We got the resources we needed, we got the people we needed that could search properly and knew what they were doing.”
Humphreys stressed the public is no longer allowed to search “for safety reasons.”
“We need to give the resources that we have acquired, the chance to do their job without hindrance from us as civilians with the potential to ruin whatever headway they made this evening.”
In addition to the time people could give to look for Thir, others donated food, water, and other necessities. Anything not used by volunteers was donated to the John Howard Society and Cold Lake Food Bank.
A GoFundMe has been created to aid the family.