Sault Ste. Marie Police Services, Constable Beau Neveau, was in the right place at the right time. Responding to a robbery call, at The Bel Air Hotel, (Pim Street, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario) Constable Neveau found a young man who was in a very serious and frightening situation. While in Sault Ste. Marie to try out for the Soo Thunderbirds Hockey Team, 18 year old Tyler Akeeagok, from Iqaluit, Nunavut, was robbed. Big Time. The incident happened while Tyler Akeeagok was in Sault Ste. Marie late last month.
Constable Beau Neveau told saultonline, “He (Tyler Ageeagok) told me this unbelievable story that while he was in his hotel room, in the middle of the night, two men forced their way into his hotel room , and ordered him to get under the covers. The men then ordered him to turn over all of his things. His passport, I.D., bank debit Card, computer laptop, and cell phone. They also made him tell them what his pin number was. Then they told him that if he called the police they would hurt him or his family. They said they knew where he was from, where he lived, and would bring harm to his family.”
The thieves cut the phone cord in the room too.
“The poor guy sat in his room all night, too scared to leave his hotel room, not knowing if they were going to come back. When it was daylight, he ventured out, and called his parents in Iqaluit. They, then encouraged him to call the Sault police and file a report.” said Constable Neveau. “That’s when the city police became involved.”
Travelling all the way from Iqaluit in Nunavut to try out for the Soo Thunderbirds Hockey team would be stressful enough on a young man who recently graduated high school. Having something like this happen would be a heavy thing to have to deal with all alone, so far from home.
In a bit of serendipity, Officer Neveau played for the Soo Thunderbirds Hockey team at one time, and understood the tribulations of travelling away from home for team try-outs.
“I couldn’t just help him find a new place to stay. I knew that I had to bring him to my home, and offer him a safe place to be while he completed team try-outs. We (Neveau’s) are a hockey family. He’s so far from home. He’s all alone. He has no identification. No money. He has no support.”
“Seeing an aboriginal kid going through this, just about broke my heart. I’m from Batchewana First Nation. He’s a hockey player; I’m a hockey player; My wife played division 1 hockey in College. All my kids play tournament hockey.”
Const. Neveau and his wife have three children. Two boys, aged 9 & 13 and a daughter age 16.
” I brought him to my house, and offered to keep him there with our family for the week he was going to still be here (Sault) during tryouts. I just felt that I could help him out. Rather than stay for a whole week in a hotel room by himself. And he fit right in with our family. We’re going to go watch him play with the Elliot Lake Wildcats.”
When Tyler didn’t make the Soo Thunderbirds hockey team, arrangements were made for him to try out for the Elliot Lake Wildcats. He successfully made it onto the team!
“We’re going to follow him throughout the season as he plays for Elliot Lake, and our family will be going to the games, especially when he’s here playing against the Thunderbirds.”
“Tyler has a home here with us now, whenever he needs one.” he said.
Constable Neveau said that there is still an open investigation going on, and couldn’t speak to the details of that investigation.
The Bel Air Hotel is where all of this went down. Saultonline spoke with the owner of the Bel Air Hotel, Mr. Nilesh Patel, who doesn’t quite see the story the same way as the police report is written.
“We don’t agree with what he (Tyler Akeeagok) is saying. Nobody complained in the room next door. If something like that happened, someone would have heard something. The door was broken. We charged him the cost of breakage. He was responsible for the room.” adding, “The room damage costs have already been recovered from him. He damaged it. He signed, (paperwork to that affect) and was liable for the damage.”
Mr. Patel went on to say, “How could this have happened before 3 am, as he (Tyler) has been saying? The office was open at that time. The door to the office was open. We have people in the office until 3 am every night, and there wasn’t anything reported. How can what he is saying be true?” adding, “We told the police all of this.”
Nilesh Patel said he ended up charging Tyler an undisclosed amount for repairs and damage done to the room. “He damaged it, and he signed (papers). We told the police this. 14 years and nothing has happened here. This is a safe hotel to stay in.”
Mr. Patel has owned the Bel Air Motel for the past 14 years.
“We were here until 3 am. The office is open until 3 am and nobody heard or saw anything.” he said.
Mr. Patel told Saultonline that the Bel Air is not equipped with security cameras.
The Bel Air Motel, is owned by Nilesh Services Inc. 398 Pim St., Sault Ste Marie, ON.