All hands rally to rescue missing South Baymouth woman

Nearly two-day search has positive outcome

SOUTH BAYMOUTH – The community of South Baymouth, with help from the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), area fire departments and volunteers, pulled together to find one of their own who had gone missing on June 18. 

Eighty-one-year-old Shirley-Ann Robbie disappeared from Water Street in South Baymouth the morning of Tuesday, June 18, launching a massive search for the elderly woman who lives with dementia. The following evening, June 19, Ms. Robbie was found alive and in relatively good health, according to the OPP.

As part of the search effort, the OPP had enlisted four canine units, a dive team from Gravenhurst, rotated two helicopters, utilized three OPP boats plus its mobile command centre, as well as local officers plus Emergency Response Team (ERT) officers from across the province. Tehkummah Fire and First Response aided in the search over the two days, as did the Assiginack Fire Department. Central Manitoulin Fire Department helped with the Tuesday search while North Shore Search and Rescue dedicated teams on both Tuesday and Wednesday.

Ms. Robbie was found on Wednesday, June 18, when a blue-jeaned knee poking up from the ground not far from the South Baymouth lagoon alerted one of the ERT officers to her presence. Ms. Robbie was badly bug-bitten, but in otherwise good health, the OPP reports. She was taken to hospital for observation and released to her family’s care.

The OPP and Tehkummah Fire Department could not say enough about the community’s involvement, from food to searching.

“Laurie Leeson supplied pizza the first night, Loretta (Mucha, Little Schoolhouse and Museum curator) did sandwiches and kept the coffee flowing and we had wraps and fries from Pierside Restaurant, plus Eunice and Dick Bowerman had hot muffins and juice for us after the first search,” Jeff Wilson, Tehkummah Fire Department chief told The Expositor. Fire Chief Wilson gave credit to the many others who helped to run the food tent and supplied donations of food.

“There were familiar faces there for the two days we were searching for her,” the fire chief continued. “It was a huge community effort that came to a successful end.”

“The officers who were there were overwhelmed by community support and donations of food,” said Constable Marie Ford, community services officer with the Manitoulin OPP. “We’re really thankful. When I see the helicopters, mobile command unit and ERT teams coming together, it makes me proud to work for the OPP. The community efforts were so important as well. I’m just proud and thankful to be a resident of Manitoulin.”

To show their appreciation to the community, the OPP is hosting a special thank you barbecue on Wednesday, July 3 at 5 pm at John Budd Park South Baymouth for all those who helped with the search efforts. Owen Sound Transportation Company is supplying donations of hamburgers to the cause with officers also pitching in with their own funds to help make the barbecue happen.

“It’s a giant thank you to a very special community,” Constable Ford said, who noted that she will also be sharing information about the new medic alert program as well as Project Lifesaver