New Brunswick

Search continues in Grande-Digue for missing 64-year-old ice sailor

The search continued Thursday for a man who went ice sailing Wednesday near the southeastern New Brunswick community of Grande-Digue and didn't come back.

Partner of missing man says she called police after he didn't return Wednesday

Firefighters in Grande-Digue continued to search for Daniel Robichaud around Shediac Island into Thursday afternoon. The 64-year-old man was reported missing after going ice sailing on Wednesday.
Firefighters in Grande-Digue continued to search for Daniel Robichaud around Shediac Island into Thursday afternoon. (Alexandre Silberman/CBC)

Search and rescue teams in the southeastern New Brunswick community of Grande-Digue are still searching for a man reported missing after going ice sailing.

Daniel Robichaud was last seen on Wednesday at about 1:30 p.m. on the shore of Martin Road in Grande-Digue, according to a news release from Shediac RCMP.

The search resumed Thursday morning around the Shediac Island area, after initial efforts to locate Robichaud were suspended at 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

An RCMP helicopter, 12 members of the Cocagne Fire Department and 16 people with local ground search and rescue teams continued to search for the man on and around Shediac Island. 

Frozen bay with atv and island in distance
Daniel Robichaud was last seen going ice sailing on this section of Shediac Bay on Thursday. His girlfriend says he would regularly sail to Shediac Island, pictured in the distance. (Alexandre Silberman/CBC)

Police said Robichaud, 64, is described as approximately five feet eight inches tall and about 165 pounds. He has light brown eyes, grey hair and a grey beard. He was last seen wearing a burnt-orange winter jacket, black snowpants and protective equipment.

As crews continued their search for Robichaud, family and friends gathered at the end of Martin Road in Grande-Digue to watch.

WATCH | Family members watch search for missing ice sailor: 

Partner of missing sailor says she feels 'hope leaving'

2 months ago
Duration 1:30
Rachel Strugnell says she's praying a search finds her partner, who disappeared after heading out to go ice sailing near Grande-Digue on Wednesday.

Rachel Strugnell, Robichaud's partner, said he loves ice sailing in the winter and windsurfing in the summer and knows the bay well. She said the sport is his "passion" and he goes out for two hours at a time almost every day.

In ice sailing, a person sits or stands in a modified boat with a sail as it travels on thin blades across ice.

After Robichaud didn't return Wednesday, Strugnell said, she called RCMP around 4 p.m. She stayed at the shore with friends and family until the search was suspended around 10:30 p.m. 

"Going from it being surreal to real is kind of setting in, and there's almost like a little bit of feeling the hope leaving — the hope of really finding him," she said.

Strugnell said Robichaud is a retired high school teacher and is well known in the community.

"I would describe him as a very kind, loving, caring, sporty, funny human being."

Rachel Strugnell
Rachel Strugnell, Robichaud's partner, says he was passionate about ice sailing. (Mathieu Bernier/Radio-Canada)

Fire Chief Daniel Desroches of Beausoleil said he got a call from RCMP at 5 p.m. on Wednesday about a missing person who had gone ice sailing. 

In ice sailing, a person sits or stands in a modified boat with a sail as it travels on thin blades across ice."We've got firefighters doing the Shediac River, we've got firefighters on the island," he said.

"Hopefully we can find him."

Desroches said the search area is large and ice conditions vary significantly across the bay.

"Some places it's thick and some places it's really thin because of the thaw that we had over the weekend. It froze a bit, it would seem like it's OK, but there might be just an inch of ice somewhere," he said. 

"It's not really safe if you don't know the area."

Beausoleil Fire Chief Daniel Desroches
Fire Chief Daniel Desroches of Beausoleil said crews searched on and around Shediac Island, Shediac River and along the coast. (Frédéric Cammarano/Radio-Canada)

Initial searches were carried out in the areas of Grande-Digue Bay, Shediac Island and the Shediac River. Ground search and rescue teams were also walking the shoreline Thursday.

Lt.-Cmdr. Len Hickey of the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Halifax said the centre provided a helicopter for Wednesday night, but it was replaced by an RCMP helicopter.

RCMP have been directing the search and rescue operation.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alexandre Silberman

Video journalist

Alexandre Silberman is a video journalist with CBC News based in Moncton. He has previously worked at CBC Fredericton, Power & Politics, and Marketplace. You can reach him by email at: alexandre.silberman@cbc.ca

With files from Radio-Canada and Jennifer Sweet

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