Nova Scotia

N.S. man with dementia likely swept out to sea during Fiona, say RCMP

RCMP say a search for a missing man in Lower Prospect, N.S., has been suspended after officials believe he was swept out to sea during post-tropical storm Fiona.

Crews searched for Lower Prospect man around Hennesseys Island by boat, helicopter and land

RCMP released this photo of Larry Smith, a Lower Prospect man who was last spoken to Sept. 23, and reported missing Sept. 24. (RCMP)

RCMP say a search for a missing man in Lower Prospect, N.S., has been suspended after officials believe he was swept out to sea during post-tropical storm Fiona.

RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Chris Marshall said Larry Smith, 81, who had dementia, was reported missing on Saturday at 3 p.m.

"He had last been spoken to Friday afternoon and [then] I believe it was family who went to check on him on Saturday, that was when they found him missing and reported it to us," Marshall said.

A helicopter from the provincial Department of Natural Resources and Renewables searched by air while the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre searched the sea around Hennesseys Island, where the man lived, with the Canadian Coast Guard ship Hare Bay. Ground Search and Rescue teams also went out in boats with sonar equipment to hunt for Smith, and crews scoured the island.

"They had searched every square inch of the island and the shoreline and they hadn't found him," Marshall said.

RCMP Cpl. Guillaume Tremblay said search conditions on the water on Sunday were ideal, with sunny skies and low winds.

The search was called off Sunday at 5 p.m.

While the search is no longer taking place, people are asked to call the RCMP if they see Smith or have any information about him.

Neighbours say Smith was 'an awesome man'

Marion Humphrey, who lives in Lower Prospect, said she's known Smith since he moved to Hennesseys Island about 30 years ago.

"He is a very quiet man. He didn't bother nobody. Nobody.

"When he used to come down, he'd say, how are you today? I'd say, good, how are you? [He'd say] Are you making hamburgers and hotdogs today? I'd say yeah, do you want one or two? [He'd say] when I come in from kayaking I'll come over and see you, Marion. I'd say, OK, hon."

Humphrey said Smith went everywhere by bike or on foot, and was the only person who lived on the island, which is accessible by road.

She said she knew something was amiss when she saw boats with search lights going around the harbour. 

The patio door at Smith's house was open when a family member went to check on him on Saturday, Humphrey said.

A small, treed island is seen in the distance, with seaweed-covered rocks in the foreground.
Hennesseys Island is seen from a wharf in Lower Prospect, N.S. The island is accessible by road. (Jack Julian/CBC)

Humphrey's grandson, fifteen-year-old Jacob Humphrey, said he'd often see Smith when the man was walking up to the mailbox or going on a bike ride.

"He'd always stop and say hi to me, ask me how I'm doing," he said. "He was one of the most well-mannered men I've met down here. He was really nice, so kind. Always came over to the house to visit — everything. He was an awesome man."

Humphrey said every Halloween, Smith would come over to his house with his leftover Halloween candy and give him a box of chips.

Marion Humphrey said she has lost two relatives to the sea in a fishing accident, and she knows what it's like to experience that loss.

"I just hope they can find Larry," she said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Frances Willick is a journalist with CBC Nova Scotia. Please contact her with feedback, story ideas or tips at frances.willick@cbc.ca

With files from Jack Julian

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