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Flood of comments on Coquitlam SAR page hampers search for missing hiker: RCMP

Last Updated Sep 3, 2020 at 2:15 pm PDT

A social media campaign asking Coquitlam Search and Rescue to get back out looking for a missing hiker might be causing more harm than help. (Courtesy Coquitlam RCMP)

Mounties are concerned with the number of Instagram posts on the Coquitlam SAR page that could drown out information

Commenters are telling SAR to resume the search for a missing hiker, Ali Naderi

Cpl. Michael McLaughlin says if a tip came that points to Naderi's location, the physical search would resume

COQUITLAM (NEWS 1130) — Hundreds of messages telling Coquitlam Search and Rescue to get back out looking for a missing hiker could actually be hurting the cause, according to mounties.

Search and rescue volunteers searched for seven days without finding 52-year-old Ali Naderi, but the RCMP’s Missing Persons Unit (MPU) still follows up on every tip that comes in about the missing hiker.

RELATED: Search suspended for missing Coquitlam hiker

Coquitlam RCMP’s Cpl. Michael McLaughlin says all the comments about resuming the search for Naderi could actually drown out tips and helpful information.

“SAR is a bunch of volunteers, so they have to spend their time going through all these comments to make sure none of them are specific things that might be relevant to the search, so it takes resources,” McLaughlin says. “But the issue is that some important comments might be lost. So we are asking people not to comment on the page unless they have something constructive to say.”

Social media is a primary means for Coquitlam SAR to communicate with the public, McLaughlin says. SAR can relay information this way, but it also receives tips through comments. So the influx of posts that aren’t tips get in the way of possibly important information.

“The thing is, we’ve been working very hard to cover all the bases,” he says. “With search and rescue, we’ve covered a vast amount of territory, they’ve used a tonne of resources, and it does not make sense to keep searching physically at this point.”

While the physical search has stopped, McLaughlin says they are still looking for Naderi.

“Our investigation is going full bore, and we’re still in regular contact with searchers. If there’s a specific amount of information that can take us to a place where we start a search again, we will do that, until then we can’t.”

Naderi was last seen the afternoon of Aug. 23 when he went hiking on a trail in the Eagle Mountain area.

Coquitlam SAR had 183 trained volunteers who spent 2,4000 hours searching for Naderi. Search teams using GPS, drones, helicopters, and search dogs were all used on 48,000 square metres of trail.

He says the RCMP is in constant contact with Naderi’s family and close ones, and it seems many of the posts are coming from users who live out of town, or even outside Canada.

“That’s not helpful for the ultimate goal of the search because people don’t know what’s really happened here in town.”

It seems, for the time being, Coquitlam SAR has disabled the comments section on the Instagram post.

For anyone who has specific information on Naderi, call the Coquitlam RCMP non-emergency number at 604-945-1550 and ask for the Missing Person’s Unit (file 2020-22677).