RCMP continue search for Courtenay man last seen in January
VICTORIA -- The Comox Valley RCMP is renewing its call for public assistance in locating a missing man who was last seen in January.
Mounties are searching for Michael Gazetas, 51, who was last seen leaving his Courtenay home at roughly 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 31.
Shortly after his disappearance, a massive search was launched by police, search and rescue teams and volunteers.
At the time, Gazetas’s friend Brent Calkin was working as a search volunteer and told CTV News that it was difficult to pinpoint where Gazetas may have gone as he was a location scout for the film industry and had an intimate knowledge of the island’s backcountry.
Friends and community members were able to raise thousands of dollars for the volunteer search, which involved renting out a helicopter to assist with search efforts.
But, after scouring more than 16,000 square kilometres of Vancouver Island, a fundraiser coordinator said that the search was being called off.
"It is with a heavy heart that I tell you this news. After two days of official searching, the RCMP and local SAR teams will stand down the search for our friend Michael Gazetas," wrote Sue Biely on the search fundraiser page on Feb. 9.
"The feeling is that if Michael was alive, we would have found him."
Now, the Comox Valley RCMP say that the search for Gazetas is still ongoing.
Police hope that summer hikers and back country enthusiasts may come across Gazetas or his red truck, which still has not been located.
"The weather is improving and people are starting to venture outside for some local recreation," said Const. Shana Macquarrie, Comox Valley RCMP missing persons coordinator in a release Thursday.
"Michael liked the outdoors and may have taken a drive down one of the forest service roads on Vancouver Island," she said "Although it is possible, we do not believe that Michael left Vancouver Island."
Gazetas was last seen wearing a black shirt and vest with a red and blue poncho. He was also wearing dark jeans and a green toque. Police believe that he was travelling in a red Ford Ranger with BC licence plate HX4109 when he was last seen.
Anyone with information on Gazetas or his truck is asked to call the Comox Valley RCMP at 250-338-1321 or contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477.