A report of an attempted child abduction in Salmo on Tuesday led to a scramble of RCMP all over the region looking for a man that didn’t exist, as it was later proven the report was a hoax.
Staff Sgt. Dan Seibel of the Kootenay Boundary Regional Detachment said a 13-year-old boy showed up at the Salmo RCMP station and said he had just been thrown out of a van by a man that had allegedly abducted him from the side of Highway 3.
“The investigators backtracked to the area where the alleged culprit had thrown the 13-year-old boy out of the vehicle and into the snow and they were able to note that there were some inconsistencies there,” Seibel said.
The boy told RCMP that between 8:30 and 9 a.m. a male suspect driving a Dodge van grabbed him and drove off, but because the boy had made so much noise, the alleged abductor threw him out of the van and drove westbound on Highway 3 out of Salmo.
“When I was advised of this, I quickly did up a media release and the investigators sent out a ‘be on the look out for’,” Seibel said.
Surrounding school districts and RCMP detachments were alerted as well.
“We have a duty to inform the public and keep the public safe,” Seibel said. “Two of us in our office here in Nelson were involved, two plainclothes officers, two officers in Salmo, not to mention all the other officers, upon receiving this, patrolled the highways in their own jurisdictions.”
While RCMP first interviewed the boy, they believed his story to be true, Seibel said, even after explaining to him that what he was telling them was very serious.
“If we didn’t act on this, based on the information that we had, and we believed at the time the boy to be truthful, should that alleged predator stop at the next school in Trail, boy oh boy, who knows what could’ve happened.”
In truth, upon extensive interviewing and investigating, the boy had skipped school after being dropped off at a grocery store. He then walked to the Esso gas station to buy a pack of gum and got lost while walking around the rail bed area.
“He ends up finding the highway and he’s worried that his parents are going to be mad at him. He’s cold and wet and he’s crying. He flags down a vehicle, he looks like he’s gone through an ordeal… then he’s taken by a local Salmo resident to the RCMP office,” Seibel said.
Once RCMP discovered the story was a hoax, they explained the repercussions and strain of resources on this case to the boy.
“The parents of the boy were involved in this, the boy ended up receiving a long, detailed, lecture from the police and the parents were supportive of the police and their actions,” Seibel said. “They were disappointed in the boy and his behaviour.”
Seibel said the police are not pursuing any charges against the boy or his family.