The sad news that many in the community were fearing became reality Tuesday afternoon after the BC Coroners Service confirmed the identity of human remains found two weeks ago to be that of Greg Welstead, who was reported missing in March.
Human remains were found on Aug. 28 and additional remains were recovered during subsequent search efforts conducted on Sept. 5.
According to the BC Coroners Service, a post-mortem investigation, including DNA analysis, confirmed that the deceased was Welstead.
Welstead was last seen alive leaving his residence on March 12. Sunshine Coast RCMP launched a missing persons investigation after his vehicle was found unoccupied and he failed to return home. It was determined that he died the same day or shortly thereafter. He was 56 years old at the time of his death. RCMP have ruled out foul play.
Stephen Fonseca, coroner and manager, identification and disaster response unit, said that the case is still under investigation and no cause of death has been determined yet.
“We know that there has been considerable speculation surrounding this case, so we wanted to make sure the public and the community knew the identity,” said Fonseca. “Mr. Welstead's family has been notified of the confirmed identification. On behalf of the family, the BC Coroners Service asks that the media respect their privacy at this difficult time. The BC Coroners Service would like to acknowledge assistance provided by the Sunshine Coast RCMP detachment, Sunshine Coast Search and Rescue, the local Conservation Officer Service and concerned local residents.”
A significant volunteer search effort was carried out in the days after March 12, when Welstead's car was found crashed into a tree on Reed Road, the driver missing.
Search and rescue teams combed the area until March 17, but found no trace of Welstead. Video footage from the ferry terminals was also reviewed, but since then, new information has been a rare commodity.
A Facebook page called Missing Person – Greg Welstead accumulated a number of mysterious sightings and discussions about possible search strategies. But none proved conclusive in the search.
During the search efforts, questions arose regarding the state of Welstead's mental health, and whether his disappearance might have been intentional.
In May, Welstead's ex-wife Kathleen Bainbridge brought his daughter Lindsay out to the Coast from Quebec to help with the search efforts and try to find some answers as to why and how Welstead disappeared.
In an interview with Coast Reporter in May, the family maintained that reports of his behaviour on the day he disappeared seemed unlike him. Lindsay described her father as a generally calm person.
“He had his ups and downs,” she said, who related conversations with her father about the bi-polar tendencies that run in their family. “The spring time is often time where your emotions can get very out of whack.”
But Welstead's behaviour on March 12 was something different, described by witnesses as “incoherent.”
Having recently been checked for arrhythmia, theories about Welstead having a possible heart condition also surfaced. His daughter said Welstead had been fasting for numerous days before the accident.