07/27/2015 02:40 EDT | Updated 07/28/2015 12:59 EDT

William Liebenberg Missing: Search Called Off By Coast Guard

The body of William Liebenberg's six-year-old daughter was found in the waters of Howe Sound.


The search for a missing North Vancouver father was called off Sunday, hours after the body of his six-year-old daughter was found off B.C.'s Sunshine Coast.

William Liebenberg, 60, and his daughter Maddie set sail from Lions Bay Marina and headed toward their cabin on Gambier Island on Saturday afternoon, according to CTV News.

A few hours later, a fellow boater spotted the empty vessel floating with the keys still in the ignition. There was fuel in the tank and personal items including an iPhone were onboard, reported The Province.

Naval Lft. Paul Trenholm says the Coast Guard was dispatched, and Maddie's body was found in the water near Anvil Island in Howe Sound.

The search continued Sunday at dawn for the girl's father, with help from a helicopter and several boats, reported The Province.

With no sign of Liebenberg by sundown, search crews turned the case over to the RCMP to be handled as a missing persons investigation, according to the outlet.

Police said there's no indication of foul play but that they aren't ruling anything out.

"This is an unimaginable tragedy," RCMP Const. Harrison Mohr told CBC News. "Our deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of this girl and her father."

Liebenberg is a popular dentist in the North Vancouver area who immigrated to Canada from South Africa, according to Global News. He has five daughters — including Maddie — with his wife, Wendy.

Lori Harman, Liebenberg's partner, told the outlet in a statement:

"William’s five daughters are his pride and joy.... William has never been idle. He has a long resume of pursuits as artist, teacher and cabinet maker among other talents. William is an avid cyclist riding to and from work everyday, mountain biking on the weekends and racing in events such as the Gran Fondo. But William is known best for his kind sincere heart and generosity."

With files from The Canadian Press

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