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Search and rescue team called to help search for missing New West woman


Vanessa Sharma holds a poster for her mother, Nirla Sharma, who disappeared on Monday.


Francis Georgian / PNG

A 44-year-old mother from Queensborough who disappeared without a trace has left her daughter distraught at what’s happened.

Vanessa Sharma, daughter of missing Nirla Sharma, said nothing out of the ordinary happened prior to her mom’s disappearance early Monday morning.

“We spent the whole weekend together,” she said on Thursday. “My boyfriend came over for dinner. Everything was fine. There was no fights. There was no nothing.”

Vanessa said she woke up at 4 a.m. because she heard the front door opening. Her bedroom is right above the door, which creaks loudly when opened.

She thought her mother was taking out the family’s dogs, a pit bull and Doberman pinscher, for a walk.

It wasn’t unusual for Nirla to wake that early to get ready for work.

“When my boyfriend left at 4:45, the door was still unlocked,” Vanessa said. “I thought she went for a longer walk, which is still not out of the ordinary for her.”

When her brother left the house somewhere between 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. to take their grandfather to a doctor’s appointment, the door was still unlocked.

Vanessa said her father woke her up at 7 a.m. to say Nirla wasn’t at home and that he didn’t know where she was.

“From there, I said, ‘Okay, if no-one’s taking out the dogs, she probably went to the gym.’”

But they discovered she hadn’t gone to the gym either. Her manager at work started calling to find out where she was.

Vanessa didn’t file a missing person’s report until 3 p.m. Monday.

“I didn’t want to call (police) earlier. I thought she’d come home,” she said. “Maybe she wanted to blow off some steam. I know she’s been stressed out with work.”

Nirla is reported to have left home without her phones, wallet, any identification, debit or credit cards, house keys or truck keys.

“It’s not like her to get up and leave and not take anything,” she said. “It’s been hard trying to keep a straight face and keep everyone together and not stress everybody out. At this point, I just want her home.”

The New Westminster Police Department described Nirla as a South Asian woman, 1.6 m (5’3”) tall, with a slim build and weighing about 62.6 kgs (138 lbs). She has a medium complexion, short black hair and brown eyes.

She has several tattoos: a OM symbol on her left arm, a crown on her right wrist, a rose on her tailbone, and a design on her left ankle. She was last seen at home in the 300-block of Lawrence Street at 9 p.m. on Sunday. She went to bed wearing pink pajamas and a pink shirt. She may be wearing a black jacket and orange Nike sneakers.

Sgt. Jeff Scott, media relations for the New West police, said investigators are looking at video footage of a woman who looks similar to Sharma in Queensborough but can’t confirm it’s her.

“We’re going to follow up on any avenue we can to try to get the answers to the questions: How did Mrs. Sharma disappear? And where she is now?” he said. “This is a missing person’s investigation. We haven’t ruled out foul play, but there’s no evidence right now to point in that direction.”

Police have also called in Coquitlam Search and Rescue to join the search effort.

Gord Lyster was searching within a few blocks of the Sharma home along the Annacis Channel shore of the Fraser River with Heather Hordowick Thursday morning.

“Heather and I are searching the shoreline west to east on the north side of the Fraser River to see what could be possibly found and ensure nothing is here,” said Lyster, who is a search and rescue team leader. “If we find nothing, at least police can rule this area out.”

Anyone with information or video footage can contact Det. Justine Thom at 604-529-2578.

Anyone with information about NIrla Sharma’s whereabouts can call New West police at 604-525-5411, or 9-1-1.

kevingriffin@postmedia.com

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