Edmonton Police have launched an investigation into the abduction of a blind and non-verbal 40-year-old woman, which prompted a brief Amber Alert. Authorities have released a photograph of two men believed to be involved in the incident.
The incident occurred at approximately 7:25 p.m. on Thursday in the vicinity of 118th Avenue and 91st Street. The victim was seated in a wheelchair inside a 2013 white Toyota Sienna van when the vehicle was stolen. Her caregiver had left the van idling outside a store momentarily.
“Investigators believe these are the two male suspects who stole the vehicle (last night) with a vulnerable 40-year-old woman seated in a wheelchair inside the vehicle,” stated Staff Sgt. Andrew Larson of the Edmonton Police Service northwest branch.
An Amber Alert was issued around an hour later, drawing public attention to the abduction.
The stolen van was discovered parked and still running on a street in Fort Saskatchewan shortly before 9 p.m., thanks to the vigilance of an off-duty RCMP officer. Trina Smith, a witness residing across from the location where the van was found, described the sequence of events. She heard a vehicle speeding down her road, saw a white van, and, having received the Amber Alert, sensed something was amiss. Within minutes, multiple police vehicles, an ambulance, and a fire truck arrived at the scene.
Smith reported seeing the abducted woman in the back of the van, which appeared to be adapted with a wheelchair lift. Emergency medical services assessed the victim, who did not appear agitated, before transferring her to the hospital as a precautionary measure.
In an unusual Amber Alert scenario, the victim’s age and disabilities necessitated swift action. Alberta, unlike many provinces, issues Amber Alerts for adults with proven mental or physical disabilities, recognizing their vulnerability. The effectiveness of the Amber Alert system was underscored by Edmonton Police Service spokesperson Scott Pattison, who credited it for rapidly locating the woman.
Police spokesperson Scott Pattison emphasized the effectiveness of the Amber Alert system, highlighting its role in quickly locating the woman. Staff Sgt. Andrew Larson concurred, noting that it reached a regular citizen who played a pivotal role in spotting the vehicle promptly.
The RCMP canine unit was deployed to the scene, although the two suspects remain at large. Authorities have released a photograph of the suspects and urged anyone with information about their identities or whereabouts to contact the Edmonton Police Service at 780-423-4567 or #377 from a mobile phone. Anonymous tips can also be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online.