Time: 19:35 hrs (EST)
Source: Ontario Provincial Police
Reason: Missing female in the Rockcliffe Park area of Ottawa.
Briefing: Ardeth Wood, a 27 year old female cyclist, missing since Wednesday, August 06/03. ARES members to assist OPP and other agencies in search efforts for Ardeth. Search to focus on specific areas of the Rockcliffe park section of the bicycle path back to the banks of Greens Creek. Search members to form a line, and using a grid technique, will search for evidence of missing person. ARES members asked to be on scene for Sunday, Aug.10/03 at 0800.
Action: Following a phone call from Special Constable Peter Graves of the OPP to the Renfrew County ARES Emergency Coordinator, VE3PL (Les Thom) requesting assistance of ARES members that had received OSARVA training and certification, Fred (VA3FPB) ARES search coordinator was contacted. Through discussion with Les and Fred it was decided that a number of available ARES members would travel to Ottawa early Sunday morning (Aug.10/03) and engage in the search. Upon arrival. Fred contacted the on-scene commander and solicited directions for our group. Because our group members had received OSARVA training, we were permitted into the inner circle of searchers who would work directly with the police agencies on scene. After a briefing from the incident commander, our group was divided up and sent out under the leadership of the OPP ERT (Emergency Response Team) members. The weather was cloudy with slight drizzle and at times heavy rain, making a selection of outer wear important. The group I (VE3PL - Les Thom - Renfrew County ARES Emergency Coordinator) was involved with traveled from the command post by vehicle to an area along the bike path. Once we reached this location, we prepared for a line search. Our search would take us in line pattern through mixed underbrush, to heavy underbrush from the bike path to the banks of Greens Creek. Once the bank of the creek was reached, our group would then move the line west by the length of the line, and start progressing back to the path. The outer edge of the search line was being flagged by our members as required. At one point, it became obvious that part of the area we were responsible for searching had already been flagged. A call was put into command post, and it was learned that some flagging had taken place during previous hasty searches, however, we were to continue as planned. Searching continued until just after 1 o'clock, at which time our line was once again out at the bicycle path. We then received orders to return to command post and await lunch. Most of us removed our wet clothing, socks included while waiting for a bite to eat. Lunch was served via a buffet style, utilizing a city OC Transpo bus as a walk through. Following lunch, and while preparing to return to the search, word was handed down that all search activity would be halted until some new evidence was checked in further detail. It was stated that this could take several hours. Upon discussion with Peter Graves of the OPP, it was mutually decided that our group should consider returning to Pembroke. After a few handshakes and pictures, we were back on the road home. It was decided while en-route to meet at Jamie's QTH for a warm coffee and a de-briefing.
Results: It was the following day we learned the fate of Ardeth Wood. Following the discovery of her black Peugeot hybrid bicycle, closer searches of the immediate area resulted in police divers locating a body. After positive identification, and an autopsy, it was learned that Ardeth had become a murder victim. On behalf of the Renfrew County Amateur Radio Emergency Services group, I extend our greatest condolences to family and loved ones of Ardeth Wood. Police have since distributed a composite drawing of a suspect in the murder of Ardeth Wood. Further information on the on-going investigation can be located on the internet.
Debriefing: Following a formal thank you by the OPP our members left the site and returned by vehicle to Pembroke. It was decided to hold a debriefing at Jamies' QTH. Some of the matters discussed was the likelihood of the outcome. It was also noted that this search effort by our members was different than others in the sense that we were not there to supplement communications, as we have been called on to do in the past. Communications was not a problem with in the city area, and our services were utilized as OSARVA trained searchers. Mention was made of the fact that at some points during the search in particular search groups, there appeared to be a conflict of leadership between the OPP ERT members and the local Ottawa Police. It was stated that the search was in fact under command of the Ottawa Police Chief (Vince Beven) and the OPP were assisting with their expertise in search techniques. It was mutually agreed that our members all performed the tasks requested of them in a professional manner.
Members: The following members were directly involved. This list is in no particular order and does not imply the function of any particular member. VE3AJH, VA3FPB, VA3AJT, VA3RKS, VA3GSL,VE3HWH, VE3PL and VA3JRC.