© Cape Breton Post - TC MEDIA
Justin McNeil, a 19-year-old from Glace Bay is missing after falling into a river near Calgary on Sunday. Submitted
It is still uncertain whether the body of a man found in an Alberta river on Saturday is that of missing Glace Bay native Justin McNeil.
Okotoks RCMP said Monday that the body, discovered in the Bow River, cannot be identified until the medical examiner has finished an autopsy.
The 19-year-old heavy-duty mechanic, who was living in Calgary, went missing on June 22 during a camping trip with friends at the Nature’s Hideaway Campground, 40 kilometres south of the city.
McNeil was allegedly swept downstream after slipping into the Highwood River a short distance from where it confluences with the Bow River.
His sister, Courtney McNeil, said the ordeal has been very difficult on the family and that the uncertainty makes it even worse.
“It’s very heartbreaking, it’s just very heartbreaking,” she said.
Justin’s mother Cathy travelled to Calgary after he was reported missing and is still there awaiting word from investigators.
The family has been hoping Justin might be stranded on one of the many little islands in the Bow River, which due to the melting of the mountain snowpack, has been flowing very rapidly.
Initial search and rescue efforts by Okotoks and Turner Valley RCMP, area fire departments and the Calgary Police Service failed to produce any sign of McNeil.
The family contacted Calgary media outlets in an appeal to Cape Bretoners there to help with the search.
The body of the man found Saturday was spotted by recreational fishermen and was later recovered by the Foothills and High River fire departments with the assistance of a boat.