Developmentally challenged woman lost overnight at Sasamat Lake
Courtesy of The Vancouver Province: http://www.theprovince.com/news/Developmentally+challenged+woman+lost+overnight+Sasamat+Lake+near/7036831/story.html
Joy Zhang, 21, was last seen at about 12:30 p.m. Thursday on a hike at the Belcarra-area park during a day trip with her caregivers.
Zhang, who has the mental capacity of a grade-schooler, got separated from the main group when she wanted to go back to the main camp with a friend, who also has special needs.
Coquitlam Search and Rescue search manager Dwight Yochim said the woman had no cellphone, water or food with her. All her provisions were left on the beach in her backpack.
Her friend, Judy, was found safely Thursday night at about 11 p.m., about a kilometre up a hill along the ridgeline between Sasamat and Buntzen lakes.
Zhang was still missing mid-morning Friday, and searchers hadn’t been able to get a coherent account from her friend of how the pair got split up.
Yochim said Zhang, a Coquitlam resident, was on a Douglas College class outing with nine other students and two supervisors when she got separated.
Douglas College president Scott McAlpine said Zhang was taking a yearlong consumer job preparation program designed to integrate people with special needs into the community.
He explained that “outings are a regular part of the program” in order to acclimatize students, and added that Zhang was just a week away from graduation.
McAlpine said this was the first time in the program’s nearly 30-year history that a student has ever gone missing.
Her parents are now on scene with the searchers. A family member has been left at her house in case she makes her way home.
Police and search and rescue crews continued to search through the night with an 18-member team, Yochim said.
A 13-member team took over the search in the morning. A helicopter was conducting an air search and the Coast Guard completed a shoreline search along Burrard Inlet Friday morning.
Zhang is described as Asian, five feet, seven inches tall and 100 pounds, and was last seen wearing capri pants and a pink jacket.
“Hopefully someone at the lake yesterday may have seen her,” Yochim said.
Anyone with information can call Port Moody Police at 604-461-3456 or 911.
Read more: http://www.theprovince.com/news/Developmentally+challenged+woman+lost+overnight+Sasamat+Lake+near+Belcarra/7036831/story.html#ixzz22W4Rx4hR