Sean Hart has been missing for 48 days, but his family is far from ready to give up the search.
The 34-year-old Saanich man, who has schizoaffective disorder, was staying at Seven Oaks Tertiary Mental Health facility when he unexpectedly left on Nov. 6.
Prone to wandering the woods and trekking long distances barefoot, this isn’t the first time Hart has gone missing but it is the longest.
“I’m so concerned. It’s so cold,” said his mother, Penny Hart. “He, at this stage, would be very manic. He’d be hallucinating, hearing voices and acting very erratic.”
Gathered on Christmas Eve in the home of Hart’s aunt and uncle, Lee-Anne and Keith Karlsson, the family explained how Hart’s disappearance has united them.
The two families used to live just six houses apart when Hart and his cousin, Michael Pritchard, were growing up. But when Penny arrived in Victoria this November, she hadn’t seen her sister in decades.
“On the phone she said, ‘Lee-Anne, I need support,’ ” said Lee-Anne. “I have my sister back, my best friend and it has brought amazing healing to the whole family.”
Penny and Lee-Anne now go out every day to put up posters and talk to people on the street.
“I’m the driver,” Lee-Anne said. “I’m more intimidated. She [Penny] just goes up to everybody and starts talking to them. And every single person has been positive and encouraging.
“That’s how we get through the day. Days that we don’t go are really hard because we feel like we’re not doing something and then the dark place comes.”
They’ve also started a Facebook page called Please Help Find Sean Martin Hart that garners more members every day.
Keith says they’ve come to accept the low likelihood of Hart just showing up. Now, they’re focusing on spreading his image and name as widely as possible in the hopes that someone knows something.
“A lot of the tips aren’t right, but it doesn’t matter because at least people are looking,” Lee-Anne said.
Hart is described as Caucasian, 6′ tall, 130 pounds, with blue eyes and long, curly, brown hair. He was last seen dressed in black clothing and wearing a white mask. Saanich police say they believe he was wearing a black three-quarter-length jacket with a fur-lined hood from the brand ONLY, and black, size 10 Under Armour men’s hiking boots.
“I am so grateful for the people I come in contact with,” Penny said. “Sean has now become Vancouver Island’s son, not just mine.”
Hart requires medical attention and police ask anyone who sees him to call 911 rather than approaching him.
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