COQUITLAM (NEWS 1130) – The search for a missing 56-year-old woman has been scaled back for the day as it becomes too dark to scour Coquitlam’s Eagle Mountain.
Dozens of search and rescue volunteers have been looking in the rain for Annette Poitras, who disappeared on Monday afternoon. Poitras is a professional dog walker and had three animals with her in the Westwood Plateau area when she vanished.
RCMP Corporal Michael McLaughlin says it’s too difficult and dangerous to search overnight.
“This is still an urgent, if not more urgent, investigation but with darkness coming, severe weather conditions and treacherous terrain we have to scale back the search overnight and start again at first light.”
“There have been no significant clues that have helped us find her location in spite of exhaustive efforts. We’ve looked at her van and the contents of her van, tried to locate her phone, we’ve tried interviewing many family and friends, nothing has come up to help us locate her thus far.”
The focus of the search has been on the east side of Eagle Mountain. RCMP say there’s no sign of foul play or risk to the public, but Poitras was not prepared to spend the night outside and
the weather could be a factor.
Michael Coyle from Coquitlam Search and Rescue says Poitras walked two dogs on Monday morning.
“She went and picked up her afternoon dogs and had a phone call with a friend — that’s the last time she was heard from,” explains Coyle.
Annette Poitras went missing Nov. 20, 2017. She was last heard from at about 2:30 p.m., when she said she was walking three dogs near her home in Westwood Plateau. (Source: Facebook)
Annette Poitras’ husband Marcel says he called police when she didn’t return home early Monday evening.
“(I was) getting concerned so I jumped in the car and drove out to her usual parking spots where she walks, up at Burke Mountain. Nothing there. So I came up here and sure enough I found her van. And that’s when I called 911,” he says.
“I know a lot of her walking areas up here, I’ve been up here with her so I showed them on the map where she likes to go. About 7:30 (Monday night) the police were here with a couple of dogs.”
Coyle says cell phone coverage can be spotty on Westwood Plateau.
“There are a lot of areas where it just drops out. That’s pretty common… People don’t realize sometimes that they can walk just a short distance — and no contact,” he adds.
“(Monday night), it was good. But this morning, (it took) a turn for the worse. And we know from the forecast that we’ve got this rainfall warning in effect for the areas in the mountains. So, we are a little worried about that,” says Coyle.
The search also involves a helicopter, although visibility is challenging with the misty conditions.
Crews haven’t heard any barking from the dogs in the area they’ve searched so far.
“I think that we covered an area close to where she parked her van and in the areas where her friends and family had told us that she usually walks. What I think has happened is she’s gone further afield,” says Coyle.
Poitras is described as Caucasian with a medium build and 4’11” tall. She has blonde hair and blue eyes.
If you have any information about her whereabouts, you’re asked to call 911.
But Coyle is asking you to leave the searching to the professionals. “We’ve already started getting calls from the public, offering help. We don’t want to be swamped by well-meaning volunteers, which would completely derail the search.”
“Dozens of police and expert rescuers are here on scene. We are asking the public to keep their eyes open and their ears open, but certainly don’t come here — this is a situation that could be quite dangerous,” adds RCMP Corporal Michael McLaughlin.
Chloe, Bubba and Roxy are the dogs Annette Poitras was walking when she disappeared on Monday, November 20th.