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Still no answers for Labrador family after weekend search for Luke Cooper

Jeremiah Cooper with a poster asking for help finding his uncle Luke, who went missing in Labrador over a year ago. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Jeremiah Cooper with a poster asking for help finding his uncle Luke, who went missing in Labrador over a year ago. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - SUBMITTED

More than 20 people took part in a volunteer search in North West River over the weekend to try and find the body of Luke Cooper who disappeared a year ago and is presumed deceased.

Despite covering a lot of ground and a lot of water, Luke Cooper is still missing.

“We covered a lot of ground, but we didn’t have as many people turn up as we had hoped,” said Sheila Cooper, Luke’s sister, who had hoped for at least 50 people to volunteer.

“There were certain places I wanted to cover, but we didn’t have enough people or enough time.”

“We found some bones, but they turned out to be animal. We found odds and ends, but nothing pertaining to Luke.”

The RCMP said last year that Luke Cooper and another woman went canoeing in the early hours of July 15, 2018. The canoe capsized and the woman was able to swim ashore. It is presumed that Luke drowned.

Given that information, the initial searches last year were concentrated on the water in central Labrador. This year, however, the summer searches have broadened. The Cooper family say they have received various tips and leads over the past year that suggest Luke may have met with foul play and could be in the water or buried on land.

Wherever Luke’s body is, given that he has been missing for a year, Sheila and the other searches know finding his body would be a grim task with the state of decomposition.

“If it’s on the land, we could be looking for parts of a body, a shallow grave or soil that’s soft. We’re looking in bushes and trees,” said Sheila Cooper.

“Some of us have looked on the Internet for what a body would look like a year later.”

“We’re looking for body parts too, we might not necessarily find a body.”

More searches are planned for the rest of the summer. Cooper is determined they will continue to search under until her brother’s body is found. She said she is hoping to get a Ground Search and Rescue team involved at some point.

The Cooper family have also been having trouble with people tearing down the missing persons posters they have put up all around central Labrador.

According to Sheila Cooper, the family has already replaced hundreds of posters in North West River, Happy Valley-Goose Bay and the highway in between.

Sheila said her six-year-old son, Jeremiah came home on Saturday with two crumpled-up posters he found on the ground.

“He told me, ‘It’s sad that people are taking them down and it’s not very nice of them’,” said Sheila.

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