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

Update: North Beach clam harvest closed due to PSP biotoxin

Marine biotoxin results in closure for all bivalve harvesting from Wiah Point to Rose Spit

In Pictures: Rock the Plank! brings in the booty

Pirate-themed skate party raises $2,500 for new Masset Skate Society

Haida Gwaii fishing grounds are key to survival of northern resident killer whales: DFO

Plan marks waters from Langara to Rose Spit as critical habitat for northern resident killer whales

Masset suggests a simpler structure for Gwaii Trust

Change would parallel existing municipal, regional district representation for non-Haida communities

Grade 9s on Gwaii Haanas trip visit “the best spot on Haida Gwaii”

Now in its fourth year, Grade 9 trip gives Haida Gwaii youth a chance to visit Tanu and Windy Bay

VIDEO: Trudeau shuffles familiar faces, adds new ones to expanded cabinet

Justin Trudeau shuffles his front bench Wednesday to install the roster of ministers that will be entrusted with leading the Liberal team into next year’s election.

B.C. to add hundreds of taxis, help cab companies modernize

Ride hailing companies have to wait until fall of 2019 to apply for licences

BC Summer Games ready to begin on Vancouver Island

More than 2,000 athletes will compete in 18 sports from Friday to Sunday

Plenty of heroes in Thai cave rescue, says B.C. diver

Erik Brown reflects on team effort that brought 12 boys and their coach to safety

Funding available to replace infected B.C. hazelnut trees

B.C. Hazelnut Growers to recieve $300,000 over three years to battle eastern filbert blight

Woman charged after eight dogs seized from hotel room

Sixteen dogs recently seized from Adams and her daughter in Quesnel

Owner of B.C. fruit stand recounts ‘flames popping up everywhere’ from wildfire

The Mount Eneas wildfire is burning at about 200 hectares south of Peachland

Ontario, Saskatchewan premiers join together to oppose federal carbon plan

Saskatchewan is already involved in a court case over the tax

For-profit ridesharing legislation long overdue: BC Conservatives

Interim party leader Scott Anderson said the provincial government should step out of the way

Most Read