Two cigarettes packs found by search and rescue (SAR) crews earlier this week have been ruled out as belonging to a missing Nanaimo senior who hasn’t been seen since the weekend.
A dozen different SAR teams from the Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland have set up a command post along a gravel road that cuts through a dense backwoods area between Nanaimo and Ladysmith as they attempt to locate 73-year-old Faye Hanson.
“There were two cigarette packs that were found but they were determined to be not an issue in this search. They were quite weather worn,” Scott Larsen of the Comox Valley SAR told the Chronicle on Wednesday.
Hanson was initially thought to have gone mushroom picking on Sunday but it’s now believed she went for a hike most likely carrying her Molson Canadian cooler with camera inside.
“She had good clothing on and had certainly spent time in this area before so she does know the area and is quite experienced in it,” Larsen said.
The missing senior also has no known medical conditions but cooler and damp conditions over the past few days have created a very real risk of hypothermia.
Ladysmith RCMP are leading the search and have a canine team on the ground in addition to the SAR crews, which have a second dog team and two others on horseback.
“We are all hoping for a quick resolution, knowing how agonizing this must be for the family,” said Cpl Rick Fraser. “We are very thankful for the professional leadership of the SAR team and that they are able to tap into such a large number of highly trained volunteer resources. We definitely could not undertake this without them.”
The search area continues to expand with each passing day but fog had grounded a search helicopter earlier on Wednesday.
“We’re covering different areas and areas that are further away from the last known position,” he said. “The terrain is moderate but the bush is quite thick in areas and it’s even difficult for the helicopter to see down into the area so having people on the ground is very important as well.”
Hanson’s 2014 Chevy Silverado was discovered nosed into a trailhead near Timberlands and Ninatti roads on Monday at approximately 10:30 a.m.
fThe vehicle has since been towed from the scene by RCMP and a SAR command post set up a few hundred feet away where searchers dressed in mostly Gore-Tex refuel and rest before heading back into the bush.
Crews aren’t working throughout the night because of some of the dangers in the area such as crevasses or other rock formations.
“We’ve looked at statistically some of the most high probability areas and now we’re redoing some of those again,” Larsen said.