Calls for action spurred by death of missing senior
A missing Surrey, B.C. senior was found dead this week, a tragedy that has renewed calls for a new system to alert the public when seniors and people with dementia and Alzheimer's go missing.
Gian Bassi, 81, went missing in the city Tuesday morning. Police alerted the public of his disappearance Wednesday, but on Friday, they said he'd been found dead.
Mounties said his death was not considered suspicious, but did not provide further details.
"Whenever something like this happens, it's very tragic, and it's extremely hard on families," Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said.
Particularly now, with current heat and air quality advisories, the RCMP want people to know how seriously they take reports of missing seniors. Mounties said they want to be notified immediately.
"If within 15 minutes you really can't find them, let us know," Const. Charles Chen said.
It's something Sam Noh wishes he'd known five years ago, when his father Shin went missing. The family waited four hours to contact police about the missing senior who had Alzheimer's.
"Trying to find him, I remember feeling really alone as a family initially. We just really didn't know what to do," Noh recalled.
Shin has never been found, and in the years since his disappearance, his family has agonized over how things might have ended differently if B.C. had a silver alert system.
Similar to amber alerts for missing children, silver alerts notify the public about missing seniors and people living with dementia and Alzheimer's.
"Had there been the silver alert, or something similar, I think he actually might be home with us today," Noh said.
Farnworth said he's open to the idea, which could use B.C.'s existing emergency alert technology.
"I'm more than willing to take this back to my staff and see what can be done," he said.
Noh hopes the system will soon be a reality so that fewer families have to face the same tragedy as his.
"There's been a lot of talking about this so we need to take some actions," he said.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Ben Miljure