Search Team Scours Vegreville Area for Clues
A search team of volunteers spent the past weekend in the rain scouring acres and acres of land in the Vegreville area looking for any clues that would uncover the mystery of James Candy’s disappearance.
Aimee Oliver, Western Lead for the organization Please Bring Me Home, said they concentrated the on sections 51 and 52 during the three-day search.
Shortly after 12 Noon on Friday, June 5, there was a debriefing and the team reviewed the search plan that was chartered on a satellite grid map and pre-loaded coordinates. Using GPS they began to fan out. They were also carrying cell phones, two-way radios, and first aid kits.
The search team was comprised of highly trained professionals, several of which are firefighters. Oliver was one of 10 volunteers involved with the search. Her role was to oversee the operation and get the team anything and everything they needed in a timely manner. The team included eight handlers and 10 dogs.
Oliver said they received permission to search 90 quarter sections, and focused on densely treed areas during their extensive search on foot which is both physically and mentally exhausting.
“These things are hard on people and we were fortunate no one got hurt, but it’s emotionally exhausting. Waiting for a phone call was nerve racking, and especially hard on the Candy family. My stomach was churning every minute of every day.”
Oliver said she can’t imagine what the Candy family is going through, but she does know that not knowing is hurting the family. “I can’t imagine the grief they face every day.” She said Karen and Colin Candy have never given up hope to find their son and continue to put up posters where ever they go. “All of the people I talked to spoke so highly of James.”
She said James didn’t have a favorite spot that he liked to go and hang out, and no one seems to know where he went after slipping out his bedroom window in the early morning hours of Aug. 17, 2017. Oliver said the farmers she spoke with all said they did not see anything out of the ordinary. She does believe James, who was 17 years old at the time of his disappearance would not have just left home without someone else knowing about it. She hopes the search will jog someone’s memory, and they will come forward with information. They can call the tip line anonymously, added Oliver.
“It’s like a puzzle. We need enough pieces in order to solve it.” Oliver said. “While we don’t know where James is, we know where he isn’t.” The next step will involve an investigator. “Hopefully they will be able to get some information.” They will also conduct another search for James, if not in the fall, then next spring.
She also believes people are inherently good and want to help. And the time to help is now. “Even if it’s the littlest thing, it might be the biggest thing.”
Oliver said the folks she met were genuinely concerned and wanted to help. “I want to say a big thank you to the Town of Vegreville and the County of Minburn. “I am literally floored by the amount of support and care that came from every direction.”
She also wanted to express her gratitude to the Pomeroy Inn and Suites that provided a hotel room for her and her family free of charge.
Mikhail Avakian, General Manager of the Pomery Inn and Suites, explained that Nick Oldrieve, the Executive Director of Please Bring Me Home, reached out to us a couple of weeks ago asking for support in this matter. Naturally after learning about the case and its impact on the family of James Candy and the community as a whole we decided to donate the room. It’s great that Nick has reached out to me, otherwise we wouldn’t have known what brought Aimee to Vegreville. We’re happy we’ve been able to support the search as Please Bring Me Home organization relies heavily on the generosity of the public to ensure they can properly take care of their experts and volunteers.”
Colin Candy said he thought the team did a good job. “I feel they were very thorough and I’m kind of hoping they’ll be able to come back.” He did admit the search was kind of hard on him and his wife Karen, are happy they were able to do this for them.
“Not knowing is the hardest thing,” said Colin as he and his wife need to know one way or another if James is alive or dead. But the couple have never given up hope, and continue today putting up posters asking that if anyone has seen or heard of anything to phone the authorities.
“All we can do is hope and say a prayer.”