The public is asked to keep an eye out for a Courtenay man, Michael Gazetas. Photo supplied

Search and rescue waits for defined area for missing Courtenay man

Friends and family raise funds for private search to narrow down location of Michael Gazetas

Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue (CVGSAR) is waiting to get a better general idea of where a missing Courtenay man might have gone.

In the meantime, friends and family of Michael Gazetas have raised about $35,000 for a search to help narrow the possibilities.

“The family and friends are currently working hand in hand with the RCMP,” says Paul Berry, CVGSAR president.

On a GoFundMe page, Searching for Gaz, set up to raise money for the search to narrow down potential locations, organizer Sue Biely posted on Feb. 4 that they got the first clue.

“This has reinvigorated our teams who needed a lead,” she said on the fundraising page, adding police asked that no details be released at this time.

Gazetas has been missing since Jan. 31 and was last seen leaving his house in Courtenay. People close to him think he might have gone north or into the bush, but there was no indication of where he might have gone.

RELATED STORY: Courtenay man is reported missing

CVGSAR is responsible for the Island, so they need to wait until the potential locations can be narrowed. Some of those searching now, Berry said, are search and rescue members, including some from the Mainland.

“They were able to hire a helicopter,” Berry said. In the meantime, CVGSAR was able to help out with some mapping for the effort, while the searchers continue looking.

The GoFundMe was aiming to raise $15,000 but had brought in $34,945 by mid-week. The helicopter costs $1,800 an hour with an additional $350 an hour for fuel.

According to Biely’s post, they have 10 teams on the ground. Searchers have covered southern parts of the Island and the west coast, including Port Renfrew, Tofino and Ucluelet, and areas north such as Zeballos and Fair Harbour. As of Wednesday, they are in the Campbell River area and points further west.

Gazetas, 51, is known to go into natural areas where he worked as a location manager and scout for the film industry. He is six feet tall and about 250 pounds.

“Gaz is a beautiful teddy bear of a man who has been a generous friend and fan of many his whole life,” Biely wrote on the GoFundMe page.

The Comox Valley RCMP detachment is 250-338-1321. The case file number is 2020-1779.



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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Gazetas was seen leaving his home in his red Ford Ranger. Screenshot

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