Volunteers, family looking for missing man expand search in northwest Winnipeg neighbourhoods

Dozens of volunteers searching for a missing Winnipeg man expanded their search area Wednesday evening, looking for any trace of Eduardo Balaquit.

Eduardo Balaquit, 59, was last seen Monday evening at Keewatin Street business

Eduardo Balaquit's family last heard from him on Monday at around 6 p.m., his son says. (Edward Balaquit/Facebook)

Dozens of volunteers searching for a missing Winnipeg man expanded their search area Wednesday evening, looking for any trace of Eduardo Balaquit.

Balaquit, 59, last spoke with family around 6 p.m. Monday, when he was on his way to work. His vehicle has since been found parked near his workplace with the passenger window smashed, some of his belongings on the ground in front of it and his cellphone still inside.

The Winnipeg police homicide unit is investigating his disappearance. Members of the police's underwater search and recovery unit combed through a pond in Woodsworth Park on Keewatin Street, near the place Balaquit is last believed to have been.

Community search efforts that began on Tuesday also continued Wednesday evening. Balaquit's son, Edward Balaquit, guessed there were as many as 50 or 60 searchers, and possibly more.

"The community's been amazing. We haven't found my dad yet, but there's so much support out there, letting us know that they're with us. A lot of people today was friends and family, but even more than that was people we didn't know from the community," he said.

"A lot of the volunteers that I've never seen in my life said, you know what, this is something we've got to do. It's great. At the same time, it would be better if we found my dad and he comes home."

Members of the Winnipeg Police Service's Underwater Search and Recovery Unit wade through a pond in northwest Winnipeg during the search for missing man Eduardo Balaquit Wednesday night. (Travis Golby/CBC)

Earlier Wednesday, volunteers gathered at the Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba, just a few blocks north of Westcon Equipment and Rentals at 380 Keewatin St., where Balaquit was last seen.

"Everyone in the community matters, Filipino or not," said Leila Castro of 204 Neighbourhood Watch, which helped with the search.

"We are immigrants here, so we are kind of also a vulnerable community because we need to adapt here. It's different from where we came from. It matters to us that we look after one another," she said.

"When something like this happens, it worries us because we don't know what's the issue behind this, we don't know if the same thing will be repeated to another member of our community."

Edward Balaquit says his dad, Eduardo Balaquit, always puts his family first. (Travis Golby/CBC)

By Wednesday evening, volunteers were searching beyond that area, walking down Keewatin Street to Logan Avenue and along the railroad tracks west to Route 90. 

"All the hands that can come out, the better, in all honesty. If I don't notice something, someone else may," Edward Balaquit said.

Amelia Aranez helped in the search. She said her son was best friends with one of Balaquit's sons, and she rode the bus with Balaquit's wife for 35 years.

"I can feel the pain, for what's going on in the family," she said.

Balaquit says his dad is a family man who always put himself last.

"Whatever helped us, he figured helped him. It was a part of what he believed would make us happy," he said. "He didn't have to do that, but he believed that's what we needed and that's what he wanted to do to help us."

People gather alongside a pond in northwest Winnipeg during the search for missing man Eduardo Balaquit Wednesday night. (Travis Golby / CBC)

Balaquit is described as five foot four and 155 pounds with a medium build. He has black hair and brown eyes. 

He ​was last seen in a black zip-up sweater, black pants and black shoes at 380 Keewatin St. between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Monday.

The Winnipeg Police Service is asking anyone with information about his whereabouts to contact the Winnipeg Police Service Homicide Unit at 204-986-6508 or Crimestoppers at 204-786-TIPS (8477).
 
Any businesses or individuals are asked to contact investigators at 204-986-6508 if they have video surveillance in or around the 300 block of Keewatin Street and have not yet spoken with police.

Balaquit's family is also asking anyone who has seen him to contact family at 204-298-5171 or 204-510-5170.