Grampian Police has confirmed that the body of a man found on Balmedie Beach last Friday is that of missing Cove man Grant Ritchie.
Mr Ritchie, who was known to friends as ‘Gruntie’, went missing over a fortnight ago after a night out with friends. He was last seen around 1am on Sunday 29 January, walking near the Cove Rangers Football Ground after leaving a party.
Mr Ritchie had been walking along the cliffs with a group of friends, including his girlfriend Lisa Stephen, when he suddenly disappeared without any trace.
The incident led to a major land, sea and air operation involving the police, coastguard and a helicopter, in order to try and find the 20 year old former Torry Academy pupil, who had only recently qualified as a mechanic with Arnold Clark. However, despite the assistance given to the emergency services by friends, family and the local community, no trace was found of Grant, and the search was stood down after three days.
Mr Ritchie’s body was discovered on Balmedie Beach around lunchtime last Friday by a member of the public. Police were called and the body was removed for formal identification.
Mr Ritchie’s disappearance had prompted a massive appeal for help on social networking sites such as Facebook, where over 4,500 people joined a group set up by his friends asking people to assist in looking out for him.
Following the confirmation that it was Mr Ritchie who had been found, family and friends paid tribute to the popular mechanic.
Amy Lamb said “Why did it have to be you. You were the most amazing brother and friend ever... you were always there for your family and friends”, while Jennifer Mauchline said “R.I.P Grant you are gone but you will never ever be forgotten you was a wee cheeky chap and your friends and family will never forget you, its a sin for someone so young to be taken from us.”
Earlier, Mr Ritchie’s parents had thanked everyone who was involved in the search for him, describing it as an indication of how well thought of he was, and how “comforting” it had been that so many of Grant’s friends and the wider community had been willing to put in such a great effort into helping try and find him.
Describing Grant as a “popular guy” who was always laughing and joking with friends, they said it was “incredibly difficult” not having him there with them.