As Derrick's mother, I am telling the story of what happened to him. He is in my heart forever and I will miss him always.
Thursday, November 14, 2019 - The Day Derrick Disappeared
Derrick woke up next to his girlfriend that morning happy and content. He had his morning coffee and helped get the kids off to school. Then he got ready to start his day.
Derrick needed to stop by the Provincial building that morning, before he went to hand out resumes. Once he completed that, he headed for his scheduled appointment with his mental health counselor.
Derrick had been having issues with substance abuse and was taking steps to enter a rehabilitation program. He had the full support of his family during this trying time, and I was in contact with him on a regular basis. His girlfriend was also offering Derrick support, as well as his father and numerous friends that were aware of the situation.
After his meeting with the mental health counselor, he headed home in a good mood and happy about the progress he was making. He was taking his steps and working on getting his life on track.
Derrick was scheduled to work that afternoon, so when he got home, his girlfriend gave him a ride to work around 2:00 pm and he was on shift until 10:00 pm. That evening, he was offered a part-time job working two days a week. This was a job he enjoyed, and people that were served by him, alway had wonderful things to say about him.
Around 6:30 pm, he made a phone call to his girlfriend to tell her how good of a day he was having and that he couldn't wait to get home to be with her.
At 10:00 pm, when Derrick finished his shift, he got a ride to the bar and had a few drinks before heading home.
Derrick left the bar and arrived home around 11:00 pm. It is not known what actually happened between leaving work and arriving home. He arrived at home and was agitated and angry. Derrick and his girlfriend had an argument that ended up with Derrick leaving and heading back to the bar. His girlfriend, concerned about his welfare, contacted the RCMP to see if they could locate him and make sure he was ok.
After being back at the bar and having a few more drinks, a friend of Derrick's invited him over to his place, I'm assuming for a couple more drinks. He stayed there for a bit and then headed out.
After leaving that friends place, Derrick stopped by another friends place. This was at approximately 1:00 am in the morning. This friend could clearly see that Derrick was pretty messed up from the night of drinking, so he was offered a place to sleep it off. Derrick declined and said he needed to get going.The rcmp called him about this time, to see if he was okay. Derrick hung up the phone, turned it off, and left.
This is the last time anyone seen him alive.
Friday, November 15 - The Search Begins
At approximately 2:00 pm on Friday, I received a call from Derrick's father, telling me some of the events of the night before. He was really concerned about how events had played out from the information he was told. He asked me to see if I could contact Derrick and find out if he was ok. I tried to call and I tried to text, but I never received an answer or a reply back.
At this time, we only knew that he went back to the bar. The rest of information, where he was last seen, was not learned until Sunday, November 17, when we asked both of the friends that last seen him to make a statement to the RCMP.
When I spoke to his dad, I asked for the number of the friend that called him and immediately began investigating. There was not a lot of information to go on, and I wasn't sure at that time how concerned I needed to be. I was supposed to take Derrick to a doctor's appointment in Lethbridge the following Tuesday, so I figured I hear from him sooner or later. I kept trying to text and call. None of my texts or my phone calls were answered. His girlfriend had access to his data on his phone and there had been no activity since Friday morning. It looked like the texts and messages weren't going through.
Friday, after work, I went to Pincher Creek and started talking to the people at the bar, to see if anyone knew what happened. He had a room upstairs that he stayed in sometimes, I asked them to check it, I drove around town to see if he was walking somewhere, and tried to think of where he could be. I am not very familiar with area and it felt daunting and hopeless trying to find him that way.
His girlfriend filed the initial missing person report Friday afternoon. She was in constant contact with the police and on Saturday, November 16, the RCMP walked the river with dogs and searched the area around the bar, checking to see if maybe something happened when he left the bar. Again, this was the information we had at that time. I had called them, but was still waiting for someone to call me back.
I put a small post on the Crowsnest Network on Facebook, asking if anyone has seen Derrick Robinson, and if they have, can they please contact me asap. There are a lot of people on there from the area, so it seemed like a good place to ask. But, no one was able to get back to me to let me know where he was, or if he was safe.
Sunday, November 17 - Around 10:00 am that morning, I received a call back from the RCMP, who let me know they were still searching, but they had not been able to locate Derrick. They figured he was probably hiding out somewhere. The officer did say they checked some of the known places in town, where he might have been, but nobody had seen Derrick at all. They also said the missing report person was going Province wide to all the detachments.
I went back to Pincher Creek around 12:00 pm and continued to search. I tried the Fish & Game pond, the baseball diamonds, areas that I thought he might have walked to, that were close to where he was last seen.
Leaving to head back home, feeling scared, helpless, and wondering where he was, I decided to post a more serious plea for help in finding my son.
Posted on Facebook - Sunday, November 17
Derrick Robinson has been missing since 1:00 am, Thursday (night) November 14th. If you have seen or heard from him, please contact me or the Pincher Creek RCMP. Thank you for any assistance you can give. I just want to know he’s safe and okay.
The response I received from my friends and their friends and more friends after that was like a snowball effect. The next thing I knew, people were sharing my post across the Country.
I had to work on Monday, so there wasn't really much I could do, and the snow started that afternoon.
I still had heard nothing by Tuesday, so I tried another Facebook update to see if anything would come up. I was unable to go back to Pincher Creek. There was a snow storm that day, as well the RCMP were unable to continue their efforts due to a fatal crash on the highway. Because of the road conditions and the number of calls that day, they were unable to give me an update on the file.
Update: Tuesday, November 19 - there has still been no word from my son Derrick. I want to express my gratitude and thank everyone for the amazing support and assistance in getting this message out there. (Over 1000 shares) If you are ‘hiding’ or helping Derrick, and are reading this, please let him know he is not in any trouble. We are just worried about him and want to know he’s safe. He doesn’t need to come home, just a phone call to let us know he’s ok and safe. If you have information and do not want to come forward, please visit https://crimestoppers.ab.ca/ you can call or leave a tip online and they won’t ask your name. Thank you again everyone, your help in this is greatly appreciated.
By now, reports of people seeing Derrick started coming in. These ranged from Lethbridge to Strathmore to Blairmore. The RCMP were trying to get camera footage, but were not able to confirm any of the sightings. One person said they actually talked to him in the grocery store in Blairmore on Saturday, November 16. Every time I heard of one of these sightings my heart jumped and hope rose and I prayed he would show up. Others said he left to go to Vancouver, Calgary or Lethbridge, but they weren't sure where he actually was.
Not Much I Can Do - Lance Steps In - The Search Gets Serious
Wednesday and Thursday, November 20 & 21 - I am unable to do anything but sit and worry in a First Aid class that I needed for work. Lance came home Thursday from work out of town and immediately started organizing a search party for Saturday.
Facebook Update: Friday, November 22 - Still no word from Derrick. We are setting up a search party tomorrow in Pincer Creek (Saturday, November 23) in the Co Op parking lot by Tim Hortons at 8:00 am, please wear and carry outdoor clothing and anything you need to be in the outdoors, as well as water and snacks to get through the day, thank you and see you there.
There was a good turn out considering there was a wind warning all day, and it was not a nice day to be out in the cold. We sectioned off Pincher Creek and the search started. Derrick's girlfriend and I sat in the parking lot as a check in for those helping to search. The waiting was almost unbearable, as we hoped someone would come across him, healthy and alive. We dreaded they would find him otherwise.
A friend of mine was able to contact the radio station that day, to get the message out there, that we were searching for Derrick and please check their properties, outbuilding and any area he could have gotten into for shelter. With the wind, the cold and the miserable day, we tried to reach as many people we could, to search the areas we couldn't.
More friends online sent out pleas for any off duty Search & Rescue to come to our aid. Any help was appreciated, and we were hoping for a good outcome.
Facebook Update: Saturday, November 23 - search has been done in Pincher Creek, all possible public areas have been checked. So far Derrick is still missing. Thank you everyone who showed up today and everyone who contacted us to show their support. We will keep looking and keep updating.
Heart broken, but somehow glad he wasn't found in a ditch, the day of waiting and wondering and hoping and fearing was done.
Sunday, November 24 - I received a phone call from the RCMP. They had contacted Lethbridge Search & Rescue and they would be there later that morning to do a search, checking areas that we were unable to get access to, and other areas that we might have missed. The waiting, wondering, fearing and hoping started all over again. I dreaded the knock on my door all day, as well, I was hopeful he would be found healthy, alive and embarrassed about all the fuss mom made.
At 7:20 pm that night, the knock came. I didn't want to answer it, I couldn't move from my chair. When I finally got up after Lance opened the door, the officer informed me that they had found Derrick's body that afternoon. Broken hearted, and shattered to pieces, I didn't have a clue how to let everyone who had been on this journey with me so far, know that the ending was so cruel.
FACEBOOK UPDATE: Monday, November 25 - My son Derrick Robinson’s remains have been located. I want to thank everyone again for sharing this post, putting up posters, and giving me more support in this than I could ever have imagined. If possible, can we start taking down posters, so people can stop looking. Details at this time are unavailable. Again, thank you all very much for anything and everything you have done for me and my family.
Sunday, November 24, 2019 - Official Date of Death for Derrick Robinson
Monday, in a daze, I spent the day thanking everyone who contacted me on Facebook to offer their condolences. The numbers were overwhelming, but focusing on every one of them somehow helped me make it though the day. I was unable to answer most of the phone calls that came in, I couldn't talk about it, I could barely think about it, and the tears just wouldn't stop.
Tuesday, November 26 - I received a call from the Medical Examiner in Calgary, letting me know they performed an autopsy on Derrick and the official cause of death was drowning. He had water in his lungs and they were inflated. The M.E. was finished with him and were able to release his body.
I contacted the funeral home and asked them to bring Derrick home and to help me start preparing his body to be laid to rest. I only live a block and a half from the funeral home and walking over there to make the funeral arrangements was the hardest walk I have ever taken in my life. None of this felt real.
Family starting coming into town by the end of the week and preparations were made for me to see Derrick on Friday, before the funeral.
I had waited all week to see him. I wanted to see him the day he was found. Being in the water as long as he was preserved him and allowed me and and his loved ones to see him one more time and say good bye. To me this was a blessing, as I needed to see him and hold his hand and kiss him one more time.
Saturday, November 30, I seen my son for the last time and with family and friends present, we said our final goodbyes. A beautiful funeral service, a gathering after, and a Celebration of Life later that evening.
But what really happened the day Derrick disappeared?
When they transported Derrick's body to the funeral home, they put his personal items with him. Printed on the bag I received, was his name, birthdate, date of death and place of death, address and GPS co-ordinates.
It would take me another week before I could even comprehend trying to locate where he was found, and trying to figure out what actually happened to my son that night.
Thursday, November 14, 2019 - The Night Derrick Died
The dot above the distance (.92 km) is where Derrick was last seen.
The dot at the end is where he was found.
This is the only possible route he could have taken to get to where his body was located. I confirmed with the RCMP that he was found on the East side of the creek.
Derrick was on foot that night, he was not dressed for the weather, and he had been drinking since getting off of work at 10:00 pm earlier that night. Alcohol did not help the situation, but it was not the cause of his death.
Sometime after 1:00 am Friday, November 15
It is only about a half a block from where he was last seen to where he took his first left turn. If he would have taken a right hand turn, he probably would have lived.
One block down from there, there was another left turn. If he would have taken this turn he probably would have lived.
Instead, he crossed the bridge and took the left hand turn after it. I don't believe he knew it was a no exit road, and it ended with no way to cross back over the creek. I have taken the route he would have taken that night, there is no sign saying no exit, and no safe place to cross the creek to get back to town. The entire area is warehousing and industrial.
I don't know if he walked straight to the end of the road, or if he wandered around the area getting more tired, confused, colder and lost. He was dressed in dress pants, a dress shirt, and a light jacket. Not proper clothing for the cold this time of year, and it was the coldest time of the night at this point.
I do know, by the time he reached the end of the road, he was entering the final stages of hypothermia. In this stage, a person starts to feel warm, in addition to being tired, confused and experiencing a lack of coordination. When he got closer to the creek, at the end of the road, he started to remove his clothing. His boots and jacket were found on the bank further back from where he was found in the water.
I don't know if he was trying to cross the creek in an effort to get home, or if he was so disoriented he didn't realise he was that close to the water.
I do know he stepped into the water and it was slick and deep and he went in over his head, inhaled the water and drowned. It has been confirmed that his feet were quite a ways down in the water. Even If he wouldn't have drowned, he still would have died from the hypothermia.
This is what happened, the night Derrick died.
What I Believe in My Heart to Be True
I know in my heart and soul he didn't mean for this to happen, he was trying to get home and did not think it would end this way. He would think, how could this have happened to me? How did I get to where I was, and man.. I sure messed up this time. He would take it back, if he could. He would have stayed, if he could.
It has been said, with the time that passed (10 days) from missing to found, it was a miracle that he was found at all. The snow and ice should have covered him, and there was a real possibility of not finding him until spring.
I credit everyone who seen my post, shared my post, prayed with me and my family, and helped us in any way they could to search for Derrick as being instrumental in helping to get Derrick home.
I thank the Lethbridge Search & Rescue for finding him and bringing him home to me. Even with the sad outcome, I am still grateful that he is not still missing.
Words can not express my gratitude for being able to see my son one more time, to kiss his forehead, to stroke his hair. He didn't come back to me the way I wanted, but he did come back.
There are rumours that he took his life. Anyone that knew Derrick and talked to him knew it was not something he would have ever done. He had demons, he had troubles, but he was taking the steps, he was working them out, and he was trying his best to change his life.
He had everything to live for and deep in his heart, he knew it. He would be heartbroken to know he hurt the people he loved by this senseless, stupid accident. It could have been avoided. He would be heartbroken to know this is how his story ended.
He would be amazed at the amount of people who came forward and showed they cared about him and loved him so much. So many people have commented on his kind, loving, playful nature and the beautiful, warm smile he had for anyone he came across. He was truly an extraordinary young man, who touched the lives of so many, it truly amazed me to find out just how many lives he actually touched.
The stories shared, the memories of his smile, his hugs, his laughter and the grief expressed by his friends has truly been astonishing by the numbers.
It reminds me of how honoured I am to be the one to have brought Derrick into this world. To teach him, to love him, to spend time with him, and to share this life with his beautiful soul. I mourn all he ever was and all he will never be.
There will never be a day when the pain will stop. There will never be a day I won't miss him. He will always be in my thoughts, he will never be forgotten.
May you rest in peace my beautiful boy. I will miss you and I will love you always.
Remembering Derrick Robinson
If you knew my son and have a memory, a picture or a comment you would like to share with his friends and loved ones, you can visit his Facebook Page at
Having a child go missing is devastating. My heart goes out to all those still searching for their missing loved ones. I pray they are found safe, healthy and alive.
Having a child die is a club no one wants to belong to. My heart goes out to all of those in this club with me. I pray we can all find peace in the memories we hold in our hearts, and live with the belief that someday we will meet our loved one again.
© 2019 Dawn Macpherson
Dawn Macpherson (author) from Southern Alberta, Canada on September 24, 2020:
I’m sorry for the late reply, it’s just the first year, bless you... and even those words can’t express ❤️ Derrick’s mom
Sarah R. Holden on March 03, 2020:
I just finished reading your entire post and it brought me to my knees. Our son, Jack, also succumbed to hypothermia and was missing from late, Christmas Eve., until 8:30 PM, Christmas night. A much shorter period of missing -- but the devestation of the outcome -- I can relate to your story and I've been crying a river of tears for 30 minutes; for you, for Derrick, for us and for our Jack. So much hope, so much potential, and more than anything, unending love and devotion..... Your loss is very new -- just a few months. We've been without Jack here on earth, for 3 years and two months. It seems like yesterday. It seems like 100 years ago. We have had "normal" days.....but not too many that first year. We know that this grief journey will be in our hearts and heavy on our shoulders for the rest of our lives. We know that. But you're right, the outreach of friends and family went beyond anything we ever could have imagined or expected. This love was unbelieveable -- and the empathy and concern continues to this day. Please reach out to me, Dawn --- if you feel like talking or sharing. I'm no expert but I'm entering my 4th year in, as they say. And your story; Derrick's story -- really touched my heart.
Dominique Cantin-Meaney from Montreal, Canada on December 22, 2019:
Dawn Macpherson (author) from Southern Alberta, Canada on December 22, 2019:
Thank you for your kind words.
Dominique Cantin-Meaney from Montreal, Canada on December 21, 2019:
As a mom myself, I can't imagine what you must be going through. I'm so sorry to hear of this. My heart goes out to you.