Bodies found in N. Ont. may be elderly couple last seen in November

(QMI Agency, file)

(QMI Agency, file)

Jim Moodie, Jim Moodie QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:50 PM ET

SUDBURY, Ont. -- Two bodies believed to be an elderly couple missing since November were found Wednesday, along with their boat, in a remote location on the French River near Hartley Bay, Ont.

Robert, 74, and Antoinette Desrochers, 67, were reported missing Dec. 19 when family members found their home on Pig Island vacant and the couple's boat gone.

At the time police thought the two had run into trouble while trying to return to their water-access home on Nov. 22.

"Mr. Desrochers was born and raised there and, as family and locals describe it, knew this area like the back of his hand," OPP spokesman Carolle Dionne said. "So there is something to suggest they encountered a problem between leaving the bay and reaching their cottage."

Dionne said the problem could have been mechanical, but stressed "it's too early to say, because the investigation is ongoing."

Foul play is not suspected.

Noelville OPP officers were dispatched Tuesday, along with an OPP helicopter and the emergency response team, after a sighting of the couple's small boat was reported. The craft was found in a cove about 15 kilometres southwest of Hartley Bay.

By early Wednesday, police confirmed one body had been located. A second body was found later in the day.

Dionne said the identities of the bodies will only be confirmed after further investigation and post-mortem examination, but there is no doubt the recovered boat belonged to the missing couple.

That the boat was overlooked in December when police and members of the community conducted an extensive search is not that surprising, Dionne said, given the topography of the area and the winter conditions.

"Being familiar with Lake Nipissing, and I think others would attest to this elsewhere, if you are out on lakes and rivers that have a lot of little coves and bays, it can look like it's just covered in bush and trees," she said. "They were probably concealed and a passerby wouldn't know."

The water was still open at the time of the couple's disappearance but froze over shortly after.

It was only after freeze-up when family members visited the couple's residence by snowmobile to deliver a satellite phone that they were discovered missing, Dionne said.

jim.moodie@sunmedia.ca


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