Search teams for Michael Gazetas of Courtenay are standing down after an intensive effort to find him on the weekend.
Sue Biely, the organizer of a GoFundMe page to fund private searches, announced with “a heavy heart” that the search was being called off.
“The feeling is that if Michael was alive, we would have found him. He is a resourceful guy who would have lit a signal fire, something,” she wrote. “This is obviously not the outcome we wanted and one that is hard to accept.”
On the page, she said the weekend search covered more than 16,000 square kilometres. This centred around the Highway 28 corridor west of Campbell River. Late last week, they had a clue involving a service vehicle driving the same route before Gazetas, and their hope was to identify the company to see if whoever was driving could help narrow down the search location. They have a video still of the vehicle near the Uplands gravel pit on the Gold River Highway.
Gazetas disappeared on Jan. 31 and was last seen leaving his Courtenay home in his red Ford Ranger pickup. Friends and family started the GoFundMe page to fund air searches as a way to narrow down the potential locations.
“This is a group of loyal friends who have worked tirelessly in the last week…. but all avenues have been exhausted and we are exhausted. We’ve done everything we can and looked everywhere we can for now,” she said.
There were 21 teams out on Saturday and 19 teams on Sunday. As well, searches were conducted using powerboats, kayaks, fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, with 70,000 GoPro photos taken from the aerial searches.