Former Brentwood rower, coach, missing

Former Mill Bay resident Harold Backer went for a bike ride on the morning of Tuesday, Nov. 3 and he hasn’t been seen or heard from since.

Former Mill Bay resident Harold Backer went for a bike ride on the morning of Tuesday, Nov. 3 and he hasn’t been seen or heard from since.

Now a resident of Victoria, Backer, 52, had told his wife he was going out to ride his bike but didn’t expect to have too long of a ride.

But, according to Const. Matt Rutherford, the Victoria Police Department’s spokesperson, the missing persons case has turned into a multi-jurisdictional, cross-border investigation.

“Our initial investigation has revealed that he left Victoria on the Black Ball Coho Ferry the morning of Nov. 3,” Rutherford wrote in a press release. “VicPD investigators contacted Port Angeles Police, who have been vital in our efforts to locate him.”

The ferry was bound for Port Angeles in Washington State.

“Both through our efforts and the fantastic support from our U.S. law enforcement partners, such as the Port Angeles Police Department, we continue to receive tips that we’re working with now,” VicPD Detective Sgt. Kris Rice said. “Tips are important in a missing persons file like this and sometimes it is the smallest detail that helps. It could be something that appears insignificant that helps us bring Harold safely home to his family.”

Backer is believed to be wearing a red cycling jersey, black riding pants, possibly carrying a black backpack and would be riding his black Cannondale road bike.

The missing family man stands six-foot-three-inches tall and has a medium build and has blue/green eyes and short grey hair.

Port Angeles Deputy Police Chief Brian Smith said his investigating officer “is 85 per cent certain” that the cyclist spotted on the surveillance cameras at the ferry was Backer.

“We have found no evidence that he stayed in Port Angeles,” Smith said. “The US Customs and Border Protection Agency checks persons into a data base when they board the Coho. They visually check documents when they disembark in Port Angeles but do not do any database entry. We do not have any additional or new information.”

Backer was a high-level rower who competed in the 1984, 1988 and 1992 summer Olympics.

The Brentwood College Alumnus (1980) went on to row at Princeton University and returned to Brentwood for a time as a coach.

Family and friends are trying to put together the pieces of just what has happened to their loved one.

A Facebook page (Finding Harold Backer. Missing since Nov 3rd 2015) has been set up to share information about Backer’s whereabouts and the places that have been searched.

Victoria police are asking those who see Backer to call 911. Those with information as to his whereabouts, are asked to call Victoria Police at 250-995-7654.

“All federal, state and local law enforcement agencies have the information and lookout for Mr. Backer,” Smith said.

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