UPDATE: Murray Naswell has been found, and is safe.
Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue (CVGSAR) has been looking for a Comox Valley man missing in the wilds of Strathcona Provincial Park since last Wednesday morning.
On Sunday, they did have a clearing in the weather and started conducted an air search. Teams also conducted a search with an RCMP dog.
“Nothing more has been found,” said Paul Berry of CVGSAR. “It will continue as long as we have an opening in the cloud.”
Murray Naswell, 50, of Cumberland had been camping at Kwai Lake on Tuesday and had plans to go up the summit of Mount Albert Edward on Wednesday with a couple he had met. However, the couple decided not to make the trip up the mountain.
“They went part-way and then turned back,” Berry said. “They turned around and came down.”
When Naswell did not return that evening, they contacted the park operator to report he had not shown up. Search and rescue was called Thursday afternoon and conducted some preliminary investigation before spending about 15 hours over Thursday and Friday morning looking for him. The couple confirmed Naswell was wearing only a white T-shirt, black shorts and a black fanny pack, and he had left his equipment at his camp.
“We have retrieved all of his other equipment,” Berry said.
The search team that got to Mount Albert Edward found some of his identification at the cairn. They had followed the route from Kwai Lake to the summit and continued looking in the areas of Mount Frink and Castlecrag Mountain.
Naswell does have experience with hiking and knows the park. CVGSAR says they do have some concern about his current emotional state. Berry clarified that Naswell had originally been due home Friday night, so he was not officially missing until Saturday morning.
Search and rescue kept up the search in light of poor conditions – specifically, heavy fog. The search expanded Monday with 17 teams from the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.
“The weather will play a huge role. It will dictate where we can place teams to start their search,” Berry said.
This could mean search teams spend five to six hours even getting to the locations where they can resume looking. Berry added that they should expect to prepare to be in the field for 24 to 36 hours, depending on conditions. They expect to look in drainage areas that still need to be searched but were delayed because of weather, as well as some potential sites Naswell’s family has identified as possibly being of interest or having sentimental meaning.
“We will be grid-searching those areas,” Berry said.