The West Coast breathed a collective sigh of infinite relief on Sunday when a report of a missing child ended in an overwhelmingly happy reunion.
The three-year-old girl was reported missing by her parents on Combers Beach around 1:45 p.m. Her parents were watching their other two children playing with their dog and had thought their three-year-old was part of the group before realizing to their horror that the child was not there, according to Const. James Van Camp of the Ucluelet RCMP.
“There’s two other kids playing and a dog and they could see the movement so they thought all the kids were there but a few minutes later they went over and realized the little girl had somehow walked behind them,” he said.
“It’s certainly not bad parenting or anything like that it’s just that you really, really, have to keep watch on kids of any age when they’re out there because things can go south really fast.
“There’s very few calls that are more important than that because if she’s fallen into the ocean, or someone’s taken her, or a wild animal has gotten a hold of her-and we’ve had all of those things happen- because of all that we pull out all the stops.”
Van Camp alerted Ucluelet RCMP detachment commander Sgt. Jeff Swann who got on the phone to as many emergency responders he could find including the Canadian Coast Guard, Tofino RCMP and Parks Canada staff. “Everybody that could help was called,” Van Camp said noting helicopters and a canine unit were called upon as well. “If you don’t do it immediately you can’t get that time back.”
“Some of us went down to the beach, some of us went into the bush, we completely covered the area and we found her so it worked out well,” Van Camp said. “It was effective and Sgt. Swann certainly made all the right choices as he usually does.”
Less than an hour into the search Parks Canada staff coming from the campground on a quad spotted the missing girl sitting with an adult. “She just didn’t know why this little girl was by herself and she was very helpful; I think she was just waiting thinking someone’s going to come around the corner to see her,” Van Camp said of the woman the child was found with.
He said the incident serves as a valuable reminder to parents to keep a keen eye on their children and added that the missing girl’s parents did the right thing by contacting police immediately rather than waiting for their child to turn up. “It’s good when it ends like that and it’s probably a wake up call to realize that one of the things three-year-olds are good at is sliding away and you really have to constantly have a clean view of them,” he said.