Family and friends are appealing to the public for any details after 34-year-old Liam Neumann went missing while rafting in Twelve Mile Creek near Hillcrest Avenue in St. Catharines Sunday night.
Neumann, who was raised in Niagara-on-the-Lake and living in St. Catharines, was on an inflatable raft with his dog Brody when he went missing, said his close friend Jordan Meyer.
Police spokesperson Phillip Gavin said “a male and a dog had entered the water” shortly before 9 p.m. on Sunday.
“When the male exited the raft, it began to float away. The male attempted to recover the raft that still contained the dog,” Gavin said, in an emailed response to questions from The Lake Report.
“The water in that area of Twelve Mile Creek is fast flowing with rapids. The male became distressed in the water, submerged and was not seen again.”
Police said the raft and dog were located and recovered by St. Catharines fire services.
The dog was found safe near the St. Catharines Rowing Club, Meyer said, along with some of Neumann’s belongings, like a backpack and cell phone.
Meyer said the dog was initially brought to the Lincoln County Humane Society, where a chip traced the owners back to Neumann and his mother Barbara Worthy.
Worthy declined to comment on the unfolding situation.
On Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. Niagara 411’s Facebook page posted that the family is asking for anyone with any information at all to email email@example.com.
Meyer said friends and family are doing everything they can to find him.
Carol Perrin, a friend of Neumann’s family, said they were first alerted that he was missing on Monday morning.
She said it is common for Neumann to take a tent and camp overnight near the creek.
Meyer said Neumann was out camping but no tent has been located.
He said he’s been out trying to help find his missing friend, because he doesn’t think the Niagara Regional Police Service was acting quickly enough on Tuesday.
He said police were late to the search Tuesday morning, continuing to reschedule from 8:45 till they arrived at 1:30 p.m.
He tried to contact the Canadian Coast Guard and asked them for assistance, but was told they needed a formal request from the Niagara Regional Police before they could join the search effort, he said.
“I’m trying to do everything I can to find my friend because he’s been missing for 36 hours now.”
Meyer said the police spent much of Sunday night and until 6 p.m. on Monday searching for Neumann, but called off the search, promising to come back Tuesday morning.
Gavin said police called the search off on Sunday “due to darkness and hazards in the area.”
Marine unit officers conducted water-based and shoreline searches on June 26 and June 27, Gavin said.
Officers have also been deployed to search the shoreline of Twelve Mile Creek and a drone search is being planned when weather permits.
“The currents of Twelve Mile Creek can be quite treacherous and, in some areas, negate the use of police divers,” Gavin said.
The creek is not the jurisdiction of the Canadian Coast Guard, Gavin added, “as it is an inland waterway.”
Meyer says he is still hopeful, but he worries that search efforts “won’t find him at all.”
Reached by The Lake Report, father Ron Neumann wasn’t sure if his son was out camping for the night, but was frustrated search efforts were late to start today.
“All I know is that there’s major disappointment at the lack of work done today,” he said.
He declined to comment further on the situation, saying he was advised by a family friend not to speak to any media.