THE search for 88-year-old Jarnail Sanghera came to a tragic conclusion on Sunday night after a large scale effort was mounted to find him. A member of the public located Sanghera’s body on a remote corner of a business property, located in the 10,000-block of River Way.
Officers secured the scene, and the Integrated Forensic Investigative Services team was called in. Sanghera’s family was notified on Sunday night.
“At this time foul play is not suspected,” said Cris Leykauf, spokesperson for Delta Police, on Monday. Delta Police Victim Services has been working with the family, and will continue to offer support.
“The search for Mr. Sanghera was the top priority for the Delta Police these past 10 days, with significant resources redirected to the effort to find him,” said Leykauf. Search and Rescue was called out three times, with 78 searchers deployed over an extensive area, including riverbanks and coastlines. Police dogs were brought out, and Air 1 went up four times.
“We’d like to thank the Surrey RCMP, City of Surrey, and Metro Vancouver Transit Police’s Physical Security Department for their assistance on this file as they pulled and reviewed video, and checked many areas,” said Leykauf. “And we want to recognize the Commercial Vehicle Inspector who even came in on his anniversary to pull video. So many individuals, businesses and community groups contributed to the effort to find Mr. Sanghera.”
Leykauf noted that there have been a number of questions posed about how police conduct a search of this scale, and how they prioritize resources. Simply put, police devote resources to work off the last confirmed sighting, and this must be a systematic process, so that efforts can be best prioritized.
A number of people also expressed interest in volunteering in organized searches. The Delta Police rely on South Fraser Search and Rescue, which is a group of highly trained and equipped volunteers, who conduct grid searches, and provide police a detailed map of search efforts. There can be liability and safety considerations, and logistical issues using untrained volunteers.
“Although this search had an unfortunate outcome, we do want to underscore the importance video footage plays in this type of search,” said Leykauf. “If you have a property in Delta with CCTV cameras, please consider registering for our Community Watch Program. This helps save police time, and provides a contact person and phone number that police can call to request video footage.”
Finally, she recommends that families with loved ones experiencing dementia or Alzheimer’s consider registering with a program such as Project Lifesaver, endorsed by South Fraser Search and Rescue, or using GPS trackers to help monitor their loved ones, if they are prone to wandering.
Due to public interest, a timeline of the search process has been compiled to share with the public, said Leykauf.
Timeline of events
Jarnail Sanghera left the family home around 9 a.m. He was reported missing to police at 5:37 p.m.
Evening and night – Sanghera’s picture and description is shared with police throughout Metro Vancouver, and a news release is issued by police, shared on social media.
Throughout the night – Police search family residence and yard. Area hospitals are checked, and extensive patrols are done of local parks. Surrey RCMP requested to patrol around the Gurdwara and Newton bus exchange. Transit Police are requested to conduct patrols as well. Police receive tip from a person who believes they recognized him from earlier in the day. Their CCTV is from 11:30 a.m. May 15, apparently showing Sanghera walking eastbound on 88th Avenue.
9:08 a.m. – Police check with Sanghera’s family to see if they believe the man in CCTV video is indeed Sanghera. A family member confirms it is him. (This is later determined to be a mis-identification.)
Morning – Police expand area hospital checks. Police conduct area patrols for further CCTV based on the video identification by the family, searching businesses, organizations and homes in the area of 88th Avenue and 120th Street. Many are closed and police need to follow up later. Additional area patrols are done throughout 86th to 88th avenues from 112th to 121st streets; Bear Creek Park, along with area pathways and river.
Search and Rescue begin searching based on police information, checking schools, parks, etc. Police continue to reach out via social media – primarily twitter and Facebook.
Afternoon, night – Police follow up on possible sightings, looking for CCTV for confirmations. Follow-up information sent to all Metro Vancouver police, and Real Time Intelligence Centre. Traffic camera footage requested from Nordel/120th intersection to establish direction of travel. Hospitals rechecked. Searches conducted of Delview Park, Annieville Park, ND Ballpark. Tips followed up.
Morning – Police patrolled a wide range of area in North Delta from the Alex Fraser bridge, to railway tracks and paths, schools and parks south of 80th Street, etc. Social media is updated with information about Sanghera’s tattoo, and updated clothing description. The video of the mistaken sighting is retweeted on twitter. Transit Police requested to push through information again to members starting new shift; reviewed files from past three days.
Afternoon – Update received from family regarding Sanghera, and his health. Family shares tips that had come in as a result of their efforts, and suggests further checks of possible destinations. Family yard and residence rechecked by police in case Sanghera had returned unobserved. Victim Services offered to family. Patrols of North Delta schools conducted, and patrols of parks including Blake Drive Ravine and Burns Bog.
Evening/night – Police conduct additional followups based on family information. Extensive followup on other tips of possible sightings, investigative checks of pharmacies, etc.
News release is updated with clothing description and tattoo. Some misinformation regarding clothing description was circulating. Social media updated again.
The Investigations Bureau assumes lead on the file, given the complexities and resources required. Hospital checks ongoing. Tip follow up continues. Border checks. Partner agencies continue checks.
Morning – Police review map of SAR search and determine McAdam Creek was not checked at west end. Trails walked, etc.
Afternoon – Media availability with family held. Statement issued by police, requesting all property owners to check properties, sheds, unlocked vehicles, etc. Air 1 conducts search.
Police meet again with family, sharing further screen grabs from follow up video they sourced, and determine that Sanghera is not the individual pictured on the video on 88th Avenue.
Substantial investigative efforts continue. Police refocus CCTV review efforts now that 88th Avenue sighting is dismissed, and determine new sightings. AIR 1 continues grid search Wednesday through Friday.
Police release video indicating Sanghera seen shortly after 9 a.m. on May 15 in the 8900-block of 112th Street in North Delta. Three people crossed his path. This prompts additional SAR search, including boats.
Another video is located in the 10100-block of River Road. Sanghera was heading west on River Road at 11:26 a.m. on May 15. Police share via social media. SAR conducts another search, including via boats.
Timeline is updated again with a confirmed sighting of Sanghera near the Great Pacific Forum between 4 and 6 p.m. on May 15. Police share via social media.
Evening – Sanghera’s body located in a remote corner of a large business property.