Calgary police, firefighters check Bow River for remains in annual search

The Bow River in Calgary. (Getty Images)

Police officers and firefighters are joining together on Thursday to scour the Bow River and its banks as part of an annual search for missing persons. 

Nearly 6,000 people were reported missing in Calgary last year, according to the Calgary Police Service (CPS).

"Most are safely located, however, it is a tragic reality that a small number of those individuals enter our waterways – either voluntarily or involuntarily – and have not yet been located," Staff Sgt. Martin Schiavetta said. 

"This annual search brings together skilled searchers from a number of organizations in hopes of providing answers to the families of missing people." 

Calgary police and firefighters routinely monitor the rivers throughout the year, but a more thorough search is held in the fall when water levels are at their lowest and clearest.

"We cannot imagine the feelings of loss and helplessness families experience not being able to put their loved one to rest," Calgary Fire Department (CFD) spokesperson Carol Henke said. 

This year, the search will focus on a section of the river in south Calgary. It will be executed by members of the CPS, CFD, RCMP, Calgary Search and Rescue Association and Cochrane Fire Services. 

While crews search the Bow River from the ground, CPS will use the HAWCS helicopter to conduct an aerial search. 

RCMP will use a helicopter to search the river from Calgary's southern city limits east toward the Saskatchewan border.

If any remains are located, police will work with medical examiners to determine the identity of the deceased and if their death was criminal in nature.