'He has a big heart': Search still on for man missing near Fairy Creek
Activists camped out in the Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island say a 61-year-old man is still missing nearly two weeks after he was last seen.
On Oct. 22, Lake Cowichan RCMP said they were searching for Gerald Kearny, who was last seen on Oct. 13.
Kearny, who also goes by "Smiley," was last seen at a Fairy Creek protest encampment known as Ridge Camp, said the Rainforest Flying Squad (RFS) in a release Monday.
He had spent six days staying between two different camps in the area, and was last seen leaving Ridge Camp around 10 a.m. on Oct. 13, according to RFS.
He told campers that he was planning on hiking down a trail from Ridge Camp to Heli Camp, where he was expected to retrieve some belongings, including his cellphone and a large hiking pack. He told campers that he was returning home to take care of his cat, who was being looked after by a friend in his absence.
The Rainforest Flying Squad says it's about a two hour hike to get from Ridge Camp to Heli Camp.
"It is considered a difficult hike, but is relatively well marked with flagging tape, with ropes to assist hikers in the steepest areas," said RFS.
The environmental group says Kearny was not seen on the trail or at Heli Camp after he departed.
One person told the RFS that they saw Kearney on the Pacific Marine Highway in the afternoon of Oct. 13, though the group says his belongings were never retrieved.
"For several reasons, it was not realized for days that Kearny was missing," said the RFS, adding that cellphone coverage is usually unavailable in the area.
FATHER OF TWO
Cowichan Search and Rescue was called in and searched the area on Oct. 21, but were unable to find Kearny after two days, according to the Rainforest Flying Squad.
"They searched everywhere they safely could, but much of the mountain is treacherous terrain, especially in wet weather," said the RFS. "Drones were reportedly used to search a larger area."
Kearny is described as a 61-year-old white man who stands 5' 4" tall and weighs roughly 210 pounds. He has shoulder-length grey hair and was last seen wearing a purple sweater with a red hooded sweatshirt overtop. He may have also been wearing a dark raincoat.
Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call Sooke RCMP at 250-749-6668.
The RFS says that Kearny was travelling on foot and that he may have been trying to hitchhike.
"If you drove the Pacific Marine highway since the evening of Wednesday, Oct 13th, please take a moment to recall whether you saw anything unusual," said the group. "Sometimes even the smallest detail can be important."
The RFS says Kearny arrived in Fairy Creek with the leader of the Saskatchewan Green Party, Naomi Hunter.
"He is the happiest, nicest guy," Hunter said in a statement Monday. "He has a big heart, and has always been involved in social justice and environmental movements."
Hunter added that Kearny is a father of two and that he was involved in anti-poverty activism in Ontario before coming to B.C.