UPDATED: Body and car recovered, former Pictou County resident identified

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ENGLISHTOWN – RCMP investigators have recovered a body and a silver four-door Toyota Camry from St. Anns Bay.

Police confirmed the Waterville, Kings County man’s identity using his driver’s licence.

The body was recovered at about 2 p.m. The body remains on the scene and will be taken to the medical examiner.

The car will be taken to the RCMP’s Cape Breton traffic services building in North Sydney.

Jerry Hengeveld’s family has been notified. He lived much of his life in Pictou County.

Earlier today, searchers confirmed they had found the vehicle that plunged off the Englishtown ferry Torquil MacLean eight days ago and the remains of one person inside.

Baddeck RCMP Staff Sgt. Craig Yorke said that a “large object” had been picked up using side-scan sonar which emits cone- or fan-shaped pulses down toward the sea floor.

A marker, a buoy, was placed on the water of St. Anns Bay, only a couple of hundred metres from where the ferry crosses the channel between Englishtown and Jersey Cove.

The car was last seen about 200 metres from the ferry floating away in a strong current on the evening of March 25.

RCMP earlier said Hengeveld was last spotted at a gas station in Baddeck on March 25. He was in the area visiting relatives, according to his daughter Linda Halliday.

Halliday said she heard reports about a car driving off the Cape Breton ferry, but it wasn’t until Friday morning when relatives called to ask if she’d seen Hengeveld that she and her husband Bill began to suspect something wasn’t right.

Hengeveld, who drives a 2007 silver-grey Toyota Camry, was last seen by his family on March 24.

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For days, Linda and her husband Bill Halliday of Pictou read and listened to the coverage of the search for a car that drove off the Englishtown ferry in Cape Breton. Every time they wondered why there had been no missing person reported.

It wasn’t until Friday morning when relatives called to ask if they’d seen Linda’s dad, Jerry Hengeveld, who was travelling around to different relatives, that they began to suspect something wasn’t right.

Friday night the RCMP confirmed a picture of the 81-year-old’s car was taken at a gas station in Baddeck the day of the ferry tragedy and Linda began to piece it all together.

“I bet you that’s my father,” she said.

While it’s not been confirmed, Hengeveld is now believed to be the most likely person to have been in a small, silver car that drove up and over a raised ferry ramp and into the icy water below a week ago. Eyewitnesses told police the vehicle was last seen approximately 200 metres from where it entered the water, headed toward the ocean. Divers have searched the area, but have found no trace of the car or driver.

Linda said the worst part of it all is fearing the worst, but not knowing for sure. She keeps hoping that her dad will pull into her driveway with some explanation for why he’s been missing for so long.

“Are they going to find him in that car?” she asked. “That’s what’s really trying right now.”

One thing Bill is certain of is that if it was Hengeveld who drove off the ferry, he didn’t do it intentionally.

“There was no way he drove off that ferry on purpose. There is no way in God’s name he’d take his own life. He was never depressed. He was a very religious man.”

The family said he’s had some short-term memory problems lately and that he was known to travel for extended periods without taking time to rest or eat, despite pleas from his family for him not to. If anything, they believe he must have become confused or had a medical emergency that caused him to accelerate off the ferry.

It was Jerry’s love for travel that prevented his family from realizing he was missing for so long. Each set of relatives assumed he was at the other’s. But they know he wouldn’t be gone this long without getting in touch.

“If he was out there, he would have contacted a family member by now.”

Hengeveld immigrated to Nova Scotia from Holland in the late 1940s or early ’50s arriving at Pier 21 in Halifax, Bill said. He moved to Cape Breton first and lived and worked there for a while before moving to Pictou County where he would spend more than 40 years of his life prior to moving to King’s County. He met and married his wife in Pictou County and raised their daughter and son. He was a farmer much of his life, but worked at and retired from the Michelin plant in Granton.

“Whatever he put his mind to, he was very good at,” Bill said.

Those who knew him will remember him as a loving and kind-hearted man, his family said. He was the kind of person who built an ice surface for the kids to skate on each year, loved his children and grandchildren and attended church faithfully.

This week the family will continue to wait to hear from police about the progress of the search. They heard Monday that the ice had gone out and that the search would resume today.

“We pray to God that he’s still with the car and that the car might be found,” Bill said. “We hope that’s the case. We have to have closure here.”

amacinnis@ngnews.ca

On Twitter: NGNewsAdam

 

TIME LINE:

March 25: At 8:45 p.m. a car drove off the end of the Englishtown Ferry and landed in the water 20 to 30 metres from shore. It was last seen approximately 200 metres from where it entered the water.

 

March 27: After divers were unable to spot anything the search on Wednesday started with the use of a side-scan sonar which emits cone- or fan-shaped pulses down toward the sea floor and across a wide angle, perpendicular to the path of the sensor. The device was being towed by a local fishing boat.

 

March 28: Jerry Hengeveld’s family reports him missing and a picture of his car shows he was in Baddeck on March 25.

 

March 30: Police say they believe Jerry Hengeveld may have been the person who drove off the ferry, but cannot confirm.

Organizations: RCMP, Michelin

Geographic location: Cape Breton, Baddeck, Englishtown Pictou County Nova Scotia Holland Halifax Granton

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  • jack Galbraith
    April 02, 2013 - 16:42

    Jerry was my next door neigbour growing up in Pictou. I remember his ice rink and the windmill he tried o make. his daughter Linda is like a sister to me. he sold my mom and dad the land they build the house on. He will be greatly missed by the Galbraith, Porter, MicDowell and Hogg families of Pictou. my dearest regards to Lynda and Bill and there family