Combermere – Although there was an extensive search following the witnessing of a man who jumped from a bridge and never resurfaced, there has been no missing person report filed or clue to the identity of the individual.

“We checked all the motels, the OPP checked all the vehicles in the area, and every vehicle was accounted for,” Madawaska Valley Fire Chief Corwin Quade said. “It’s one of the most peculiar calls I’ve ever done in my life.”

The incident began last Saturday afternoon when witnsses saw a man jumping jumping off the Combermere bridge Saturday afternoon but who did not resurface from the Madawaska River.

The chief said they were dispatched at 2:55 Saturday afternoon and personnel from the Combermere Station were on scene at the bridge by 3:12.

“The first call that came in was for a possible child missing,” he said. “Enroute, they said it was an adult missing who jumped over the bridge. It was a possible water rescue with the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police).”

He said six different people saw the man, who was described as Caucasian, six feet tall, between 20 to 30 years of age, in good shape, wearing black flip flops, grey shorts, and a black t-shirt, dive from the bridge.

“We searched the shoreline until 8:30 that night with the infra-red camera,” he said. “The OPP had a helicopter there. We couldn’t find anything.

“The underwater search and rescue team showed up the next morning at 11 o’clock and they searched until 7 p.m. and never recovered anything,” he added.

Chief Quade said there were people in three different boats in the water who saw the man jump, as well as other people on the bridge when he jumped.

“We looked at the Bent Anchor (restaurant) and someone had seen him there earlier,” he said. “But we couldn’t find the body afterwards.”

He said no one recognized the individual and there was no sign of identification anywhere to be found.

“They’d never seen the guy before,” he remarked.

“They said he sat on the bridge for about 20 minutes or a half hour before he jumped,” he added. “Everybody was jumping off the bridge going swimming. They do it all the time, but he seemed to wait.”

Chief Quade said the man was seen taking a good run before leaping over the side wall of the bridge into the river.

“That’s the way it went, and he was never found by anybody.”

He said the OPP posted the information immediately and no one has been reported missing to date.

Chief Quade said all that can be done right now is to wait and see if anyone sights something in the river or if someone files a missing person report fitting that description.

He said the distance from the deck of the bridge to the water is 31 feet, so if someone didn’t land properly, there would be quite an impact when they hit the water.

“Where the guy jumped in the water is 24 feet deep,” the chief said. “There’s a fairly good current there plus there’s an eddy off to the right that swirls things around and shoves things back in towards the Bent Anchor (an eatery at the shoreline).

“There’s a bad current there, especially in the spring,” he added. “There is an undertow there.”

An Ontario Provincial Police dive team from Gravenhurst spent about five hours Sunday searching the Madawaska River at Combermere for an alleged drowning victim. Witnesses claimed a young man between 20 and 30 jumped off the south side of the bridge mid-afternoon Saturday and failed to resurface

Praise for OPP Search

Although their search efforts for a missing man have proven futile to this point, the fire chief is praising OPP for their efforts in trying to locate him.

“It was a very intensive search by the OPP,” Chief Quade said. “They went up and down the river with the helicopter and then they brought in a drone from the Emergency Response Unit in Ottawa and flew under the bridge and other places the chopper couldn’t.

“They brought in the Underwater Search and Rescue Unit and they had a sonar and divers in the river,” he added. “They thought they had a couple of possible hits, but it turned out to be nothing when they went down. The OPP did a heck of a job searching. They didn’t leave anything to chance.”

The OPP flew along the river twice and conducted an extensive search of the shoreline with members of the fire department.

He said the search was called off Sunday night and basically police are waiting to see if anyone comes forward with more information.

“Everyone along the river is sort of on high alert,” he remarked.

Chief Quade said his personnel were on scene for five-and-a-half hours Saturday and another five hours on Sunday.

“We had 12 people there at one point,” he stated. “The OPP let us go after 2 o’clock yesterday because there was nothing more we could do.”