Family members of a missing Saanich man are planning to organize independent searches locally and on the mainland in an effort to bring him home as police follow up on possible sightings.
Sean Hart, 34, has been missing since Nov. 6 when he unexpectedly left the Seven Oaks Tertiary Mental Health facility in the 4500-block of Blenkinsop Road.
On Nov. 18, his mother, Penny Hart, flew in from Calgary to spread the word about her son’s disappearance. Since arriving, she has been plastering posters everywhere and asking the community to keep an eye out for her son.
Twenty days after he disappeared, some 45 Peninsula Emergency Measures Organization search and rescue volunteers searched Mount Douglas Park for any evidence of Hart.
The volunteers searched the entire park in one day but found no sign of him, Penny said. With nothing to go on, the crews called off their search. She’s grateful to the volunteers, Saanich police and members of the community who have assisted with the search so far.
Const. Markus Anastasiades of the Saanich Police Department said possible sightings have been pouring in from all over the Island and Vancouver, and police are investigating each one but so far, none have led to anything.
If a sighting is confirmed, it would provide a starting point and another search could begin in the surrounding area, Penny explained. She noted that the family plans to recruit volunteers and conduct their own searches locally and on the mainland in the coming days.
Hart, who has schizophrenia, became sick after taking LSD as a teen and “has been struggling with mental illness for a long time” but is a survivor, Penny explained.
She noted that when he’s stable, Hart is very personable but when he’s manic, he prefers to seclude himself so she worries “he’s either lost or hurt in the woods.”
This isn’t the first time Hart has gone missing – incidents he refers to as “adventures” – and each time he becomes manic while off his medications, she explained. Penny added that once he’s stable again, he always apologizes for making the family worry.
She emphasized that one in five people struggles with mental illness and that it’s not something to be afraid of. She hopes the community will think of him as someone’s missing son rather than a sick person.
“Sean is a beautiful person,” she said. “A lot of people love him.”
Hart is described as a Caucasian man, six feet tall, weighing 130 pounds with blue eyes and long, curly, brown hair. He was last seen dressed in all black and wearing a white mask.
Because he has been off his medication for nearly a month, Hart requires immediate medical attention. Police ask that anyone who spots him call 911 instead of approaching him. A Mental Health Act warrant has been issued for his arrest.