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

Willow MacDonald: candidate for director of Cariboo Regional District Area L

The Free Press interviews Cariboo Regional District Area directorial candidates

How two German women broke into the South Cariboo organic foods industry

WildCraft’s organic mustards can be found in over 40 stores

From the Archives

37 Years Ago (1981): The Cariboo-Chilcotin Tourist Region F was represented on… Continue reading

Cameron McSorely: candidate for council of 100 Mile House

The Free Press interviews 100 Mile House council candidates

Lost forever

A weekly family column for the 100 Mile Free Press

Environment Canada confirms Ottawa area hit by two tornadoes Friday

At one point more than 200,000 hydro customers were blacked out

LGBTQ activists, allies in Victoria counter anti-SOGI protest with rally of their own

Lower Mainland activists plan to protest SOGI on legislature lawn, Sept. 29

Cities make power play for new fiscal order with eye to 2019 federal election

Trudeau ordered Champagne to talk with provinces and territories about ways to “address the timeliness of the flow of funds” to projects.

Ottawa area residents take stock of tornado rubble as Ford tours the ruins

A tornado on Friday afternoon tore roofs off of homes, overturned cars and felled power lines in the Ottawa community of Dunrobin and in Gatineau, Que.

Trudeau arrives at United Nations, hoping to re-establish Canada on world stage

Trudeau is beginning his day at the opening of the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, where he’s scheduled to deliver brief remarks later this afternoon.

B.C.’s FATSO peanut butter to appear on Dragon’s Den

The Victoria company will be featured on the Sept. 27 episode of the popular show highlighting Canadian businesses

Whitecaps see playoff dreams fade after 2-1 loss to FC Dallas

Goal in 87th minute seals Vancouver’s fate

B.C. students send books to displaced students of Hornby Island school fire

Maple Ridge elementary school teacher says students learned about acts of kindness

Most Read