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Community comes together to search for Shin Noh
Family, friends and volunteer searchers haven't given up hope that Shin Noh, a 64-year-old grandfather who went missing Sept. 18, will be found.
And many are saying community support and participation in the search for the Coquitlam senior is unprecedented in the Tri-Cities.
Hundreds of people have participated in block-by-block searches of Port Moody, Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam as well as deep-woods searches of the Coquitlam River area and Burke Mountain.
Facebook and Twitter have been a rallying point for searchers, with a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/shiniknoh) set up to aid the search receiving over 4,300 likes in the past three weeks.
Wife Florence and son Sam Noh, who met with The Tri-City News Friday morning along with family, friends and volunteers, offered thanks to everybody who has pitched in so far and expressed hope that members of the public would continue their efforts.
"It's been hard," Florence Noh said, adding that she is grateful for all the support.
Sam Noh said he has planned another deep-woods search in the Burke Mountain area for over the Thanksgiving weekend but is concerned that interest might drop off because people have plans to be with family. He suggested people visit the Facebook page to find out where and when the search is taking place.
Meanwhile, searchers plan to continue to distribute posters and talk to people in New Westminster. Korean media and churches have also been informed about the missing man, and shelters and social service agencies in Tri-Cities and New Westminster and throughout the region have also been sent information, said a worker from the Lookout Emergency Aid Society, which runs shelters in Vancouver, New Westminster, Burnaby and North Vancouver.
The expansion of the search to New West, Burnaby and even Surrey or Vancouver follows reports by two independent witnesses who said they saw a disheveled, possibly confused elderly Korean man getting on and off transit.
"It was a witness clear enough. I hope he is still alive out there," said Sharmain Kim-Oh, Florence Noh's sister, who is helping to co-ordinate the search.
Organizing has been a huge task, conducted from Sam Noh's Eagle Ridge Fitness Centre in Port Moody, where a command room with maps, posters and food has been set up. But some volunteers are working from home, updating Facebook, and helping to organize searchers and tips.
"I saw it on Facebook and I was compelled to help," said Sally Comin of Coquitlam. "When he wasn't found in the first couple of days, I thought, 'I've got to help them.'"
SOCIAL MEDIA IS KEY
She's helping to answer questions and keep Facebook up to date while Kelsey Keller, a Coquitlam teacher who is on maternity leave, is helping to co-ordinate the deep-woods searches and driving around the city with her three children looking for Shin Noh.
"I'd be a hypocrite to my students who I encourage to get involved if I wasn't getting out there and trying to make a difference," Keller said.
Shin Noh was a pastor at a Korean church on Austin Avenue before he retired and volunteer Ms. Ong (who declined to give her first name) said the community has been galvanized by efforts to find him. She said she's worried he might be cold, afraid and lonely. But people are coming together, continuing the work he started as a pastor.
"This event has galvanized people across the community, more than they have ever seen," she said.
THE SEARCH: WHAT NOW
• Information is being circulated about Shin Noh, who went missing from Coquitlam on Sept. 18. He has Alzheimer's and may be confused, hungry and thinner than he looks in photos being distributed. As well, he might have a slight beard and be unkempt.
• Searchers are continuing their efforts in New Westminster and to let authorities in Burnaby, Surrey and Vancouver know that he is missing. As well, searchers will comb Burke Mountain again this weekend in the hopes of finding him, perhaps hidden in the trees, possibly injured.
• Look for a medical bracelet on his right wrist
• If you see him, stop him. Call out his name, Shin. Call out his children’s names, Sam and Rebecca. He may be scared of people. Call 911.
• If you see him, call 911