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Search for missing Courtenay man called off

The search for Michael Gazetas has officially come to an end.

More than 16,000 square kilometres of wilderness on Northern Vancouver Island was searched this weekend but teams were unable to find him.

Sue Biely, organizer of a GoFundMe to support private search efforts made the announcement on the page yesterday evening.

“After two days of official searching, the RCMP and local SAR teams will stand down the search for our friend Michael Gazetas.”

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“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,” wrote Biely.

She says more than 52 official Search and Rescue volunteers came from as far away as Victoria, Salt Spring Island and Powell River to help find him.

Tim Strange, Search Manager with the Campbell River team says crews were focusing on the Highway 28 corridor because there were some images of a service truck believed to be driven by Gazetas passing a certain location along the route.

Biely wrote that everyone involved in the search has done everything they can to try and find him.

“This is a group of loyal friends who have worked tirelessly in the last week. We are film people and I think we all feel that if we mobilize and work hard, we can produce results, but all avenues have been exhausted and we are exhausted. We’ve done everything we can and looked everywhere we can for now.”

In the two-day weekend search, 40 teams were involved including a powerboat, a kayak unit, two fixed-wing flights, and two helicopter flights.
More than 70,000 still images of the search area were captured.

Michael Gazetas was last seen leaving his house in a red Ford Ranger pick-up truck on January 31st. He was wearing a hat and a patterned red and blue wool poncho over a black shirt and vest.

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