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Vancouver Island man and boat still missing after Oct. 16 mayday call

Disappearance is linked to a body that washed up on Gabriola Island Oct. 22

A Port Alberni man and his boat are still missing two weeks after making a mayday call from the water south of Hornby Island.

Texada Island RCMP say Mark Braunagel visited the island on Oct. 15 to purchase a boat. He hired an individual from Texada to assist him in running the boat and both of them left the marina where the boat was moored.

The following day the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre received a mayday call from someone on the vessel, saying they were taking on water and were located south of Hornby Island. Search and rescue personnel as well as RCMP Air Services and RCMP West Coast Marine Services searched the shoreline and waters near the location where the mayday call was made, but no evidence of the boat or people were found.

On Oct. 22 at approximately 2 p.m. the body of one of the people onboard washed up on Gabriola Island. Braunagel is still unaccounted for.

READ MORE: Man’s body found in the ocean off island near Nanaimo

Braunagel’s family have posted photos on social media asking for any information. “My family needs something,” son Jake Whitcomb wrote. Whitcomb said his father and his small dog were enroute to French Creek in the vessel.

Braunagel is known in Port Alberni for his advocacy for people living in vulnerable situations. He has raised funds or collected goods to be distributed to people who are unhoused, teaming up with businesses and a leadership class at Alberni District Secondary School.

READ MORE: Alberni high school students fill backpacks to help city’s homeless

Earlier in October Braunagel told the Alberni Valley News he intended to purchase a vessel to bring back to Port Alberni to open as a bed and breakfast or floating pub on the waterfront.

The Powell River RCMP is asking members of the public who has information on the incident or finds boat wreckage in the area to call them at 604-485-6255.

Susie Quinn

About the Author: Susie Quinn

A journalist since 1987, I proudly serve as the Alberni Valley News editor.
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