The disabled Penticton teen who went missing for 24 hours got to spend Easter with his family after search crews found him Sunday morning.
RCMP said Evander Van de Sype, 15, essentially walked away from his home on Saturday afternoon. A fire storm of posts on social media followed as efforts were stepped up in the ground search for the teen.
“My baby is home and he has had an amazing night sleep. Thank you once again for the amazing support and love. Between the search and rescue, police and all the amazing people in our communities, what a great day it ended up being. Thank you, thank you, thank you,” the teen’s foster mom, Marlene McLauchlan, wrote on one Facebook group wall.
Cpl. Dan Moskaluk said the 15-year-old was found healthy and unharmed at about 10:30 a.m. Sunday, following an overnight search effort by Penticton RCMP, Penticton Search and Rescue and community volunteers.
“It was actually a woman who lives in the area atop Ridgedale that hikes with her dog on a regular basis that decided to hike down there that morning. She spotted his blue shirt and worked her way down to him. She was on the other side of the creek but was able to keep him calm and get him to stay there. At that time the RCMP helicopter was flying overhead and she was able to signal them,” said Cindy Smith, with Penticton Search and Rescue. “They would have never seen him without her assistance because he was tucked under a rock ledge.”
Smith said the search crews and dog team had concentrated their efforts that morning to the same area.
“It was wonderful that the woman found him when she did. We would have come across him at some point, but who knows if he would have moved or if his condition deteriorated. It was fantastic that she found him,” said Smith.
Van de Sype was reported missing on Saturday around 2:30 p.m. and was last seen in the Wellington Street area of his home. Search and rescue crews scoured Penticton until 2 a.m. on Sunday then resumed the search at 6:30 a.m. Smith said search and rescue volunteers were not aware how the teen managed to get down into Penticton Creek canyon because of the challenges in communication with the teen.
“It’s wilderness trails and it is very steep. Getting back out, search and rescue had to clear some trails and help him up. They piggy-backed him up a lot of the way. They had to clear the trails because to go around would have taken a couple of hours and clearing was more of a direct access to the Crowflats area where the ambulance was waiting,” said Smith.
Cpl. Moskaluk said even though Van de Sype was outside all night, he is “healthy.”
RCMP said the teen has Down syndrome. He does not communicate verbally, is deaf and mute and uses sign language.
“(Saturday) afternoon local media assisted in disseminating the information, Penticton search and rescue was activated (Saturday) afternoon and the police dog service team. The search carried on throughout the night with door-to-door canvassing and a rural, urban-type ground search was conducted along with air services (Sunday) morning,” said Moskaluk.
Neighbouring homeowners were also being asked to search their residences and backyards.