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

Two fires of note burning in Southeast Fire Centre

As of Saturday afternoon there were more than 20 fires burning in the Southeast Fire Centre.

‘Farm the Kootenays’ creates supportive community

Helping hobbyists and serious producers alike, the Facebook group has grown to nearly 12,000 members

Who will fill the Greyhound void in the Kootenays?

Minister Conroy, MLA for Kootenay West sees opportunity for local operators

Equipment lost in arson at Greenwood landfill

The cost of replacing equipment is expected to be significant.

What you see …

If you have a recent photo to share email editor@trailtimes.ca

All-Indigenous teams break new ground, making BC Games history

This is the first time there have been dedicated Indigenous teams at the BC Summer Games

Lower Mainland teams battle for baseball gold at BC Games

Vancouver Coastal squeaked out a 3-2 win against Fraser Valley

The Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw people signed an agreement-in-principle with the B.C. government

The signing ceremony, at the Eliza Archie Memorial School, was 25 years in the making

Ping-pong balls of fire dropped to merge two B.C. wildfires

The merger is considered successful by BC Wildfire Services

Canada to resettle dozens of White Helmets and their families from Syria

There are fears the volunteers would become a target for government troops

Francesco Molinari wins British Open at Carnoustie

It is his first win at a major and the first by an Italian

Government sets full-time salary range for Justin Trudeau’s nanny

At its top range, the order works out to a rate of $21.79 per hour, assuming a 40-hour work week

ZONE 1: Hannah Tracey looks to mom as role model while at BC Games

‘She has believed in me when I couldn’t believe in myself,’ Tracey said at BC Summer Games in Cowichan

Recovery high schools could help teens before addiction takes hold: B.C. parents

Schools could provide mental health supports and let parents discuss their children’s drug use openly

Most Read