Jan Stelmaszyk had been keeping family updated through social media posts on Instagram. SUBMITTED PHOTO

UPDATED: RCMP say search ongoing for missing man, child despite rumours of whereabouts

Jan Stelmaszyk and his son Matt Bartnik were reported missing in Port Alberni this week

Port Alberni RCMP investigators are still trying to reach a Port Alberni man who was reported missing along with his son on July 5.

“Investigators are aware that there are claims on social media advising that the individuals we are searching for are okay, but out of the country,” RCMP stated in a release issued late Friday.

“Our efforts right now are to conclusively confirm that information on social media is accurate. In order to conclude a missing person’s investigation we do need to speak directly with the individual and ensure all is well.”

It was family members of Jan Stelmaszyk and his three-year-old son, Matt Bartnik, who reported the pair missing to Port Alberni police after not hearing from them for four days.

The 35-year-old father and his son were believed to be camping somewhere on Vancouver Island, police said Thursday, and had been keeping loved ones updated about the trip through posts on Instagram.

However, in a post to his account on Friday, the location was listed as Arco, Italy, and the photo he shared had his son and another child in a double stroller with a pair of pizza boxes on their laps.

“OMG!!! I just woke up to realize me and my son are ‘missing.’ That ‘some family members’ are ‘concerned’ about where we are and that I haven’t posted anything on social media for a couple of days,” Stelmaszyk wrote in a post accompanying the photo with his son sitting next to an unidentified child.

Stelmaszyk called the missing persons report “#fakenews.” Two additional posts labeled as Arco, Italy were put up on his Instagram account Friday afternoon. An Instagram user can geotag any location whether they are actually there or not.

One woman in Port Alberni is disputing the fact that Stelmaszyk and his son are in Italy. Sarah Zigay said her child played with Matt Bartnik at Gyro Recreation Park in Port Alberni for more than an hour the morning of Wednesday, July 4.

The children played together in the park for more than an hour, while the father sat on a park bench alternating between checking his cellphone and playing with his son. Zigay thought nothing of it — until she woke up Thursday morning and saw news of a missing Port Alberni man and his son who matched the descriptions of the same people she had interacted with at the park that day.

“When I saw the next morning on the Alberni Valley News, I thought, what’s up here? Everyone’s concerned, the family is looking for them,” Zigay said. “I phoned the local RCMP right away. I told them I was at Gyro Wednesday morning just before 10… you can’t miss the guy, he’s six-foot-two, tall and skinny with a thick accent. (His son) was playing with my two-and-a-half-year-old.”

Apparently just learning of the situation Friday morning, Stelmaszyk took to social media to claim he and his son were safe and were not “missing”.

Zigay said while she understands and respects a person’s desire to unplug from social media, with so many people — including police — looking for a man and child, it’s no joke.

“I don’t think that’s funny,” she said. “Coming from a mom with a little one… it makes me worry about my baby, that’s why I had to speak up,” she said, choking up. “It’s a mom worrying about a baby. That’s not OK.”

The Alberni Valley News has reached out to Stelmaszyk for comment but he has yet to respond.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Walk into the forest in the Showcase Gallery

Group exhibit is focussed on trees

More Than Wood Art Gallery in 100 Mile House shows off artists

‘There is so much talent. It’s amazing’

Chekhov’s gun

A weekly family column for the 100 Mile Free Press

What are you doing on your Christmas break?

Megan Balbirnie 103 Mile House “I’m probably staying home then we’re going… Continue reading

Lawyer for Chinese exec detained by Canada says it’s ‘inconceivable’ she would flee

Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of the U.S. during a layover at the Vancouver airport

Too many die in heavy truck crashes, B.C. auditor says

Province has no mandatory driver training for commercial vehicles

B.C. city considers scrapping funds for Christmas decorations

Victoria city coun. Ben Isitt doesn’t think the government should pay for any religious symbols

Well-known B.C. snowmobile guide killed in rollover accident

Shuswap sledding communty mourns loss of experienced Sicamous snowmobiler

BCHL player lifts Canada West to second win at World Junior A Challenge

Chilliwack Chiefs player has a three-point performance

Climate change, receding glaciers increase landslide risk on B.C.’s Mount Meager

Climate change is causing glaciers atop Mount Meager, in British Columbia, to shrink increasing the chances of landslides and even a new eruption, says one expert.

UK’s May lobbies EU leaders in fight to save Brexit deal

Top European Union officials ruled out Tuesday any renegotiation of the divorce agreement with Britain.

Former Canadian diplomat detained in China amid rising tensions: reports

A former Canadian diplomat has been arrested in China, according to media reports and the international think tank he works for.

Most Read