Former Canadian Olympian seen on Washington state ferry after he disappeared

VICTORIA – Police in Washington state are almost certain that a missing Victoria man entered the state aboard a ferry a week ago.

Deputy Chief Brian Smith of the Port Angeles Police Department said Tuesday that an officer who viewed video surveillance from a street camera saw a man matching Harold Backer’s description.

He said the man left the Coho ferry in the middle of the day on Nov. 3.

That’s the day the 52-year-old former Canadian Olympic rower was last seen, wearing a red cycling jersey and black riding pants. He was possibly riding a black road bike and carrying a black backpack.

“Our officer is 85 per cent sure he’s seeing the person in question riding his bicycle and leaving the Coho ferry,” Smith said of Backer, who competed in the 1984, 1988 and 1992 Olympic Games.

However, video surveillance from U.S. Customs and Border Protection does not show the man getting off the ferry in Port Angeles, he said.

There could be various reasons for that, including that other people were in the way of the camera, Smith said.

“So far we aren’t able to recover any video from Customs and Border Protection that would show him coming down the walkway. That doesn’t mean he didn’t do it, it means that we aren’t able to establish that.

“We’re operating from the premise that he did enter the U.S., that it was him,” Smith said.

The Black Ball ferry line operates the Coho, which makes the hour-and-a-half crossing between Victoria and Port Angeles twice as day — at 10:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.

The Victoria Police Department issued a statement saying Backer told his family that he was going for a bike ride but failed to return home.

The department did not return calls for an interview.

The Canadian Securities Administrators lists Backer as a seller of mutual funds in British Columbia and Ontario.

He is registered with a firm called Investia Financial Services as of September 2009 and agreed to be supervised.

Richard Gilhooley of the B.C. Securities Commission said he could not immediately provide further information on Backer.

— By Camille Bains in Vancouver