The families of a missing Alberta couple have started an online fundraiser to keep the search going.
Pilot Dominic Neron and his girlfriend Ashley Bourgeault were reported missing on Nov. 25 after their single-engine plane failed to arrive in Edmonton. They had taken off from Penticton.
The military had conducted a search using resources in the air and on the ground. The plane last transmitted a signal in the Revelstoke area and Neron’s phone last pinged off a cell tower in the area.
On Monday, after nine days of searching, the Victoria Joint Rescue Coordination Centre called off the search and the file was handed over to local RCMP.
It is now being treated as a missing persons case.
Staff Sgt. Kurt Grabinsky said that the search is now information-based.
“We are still looking to recover the plane and recover the missing people,” he said.
He says the RCMP have been in contact with the families, but that if they opt to hire anyone to keep looking, that it is their own cost.
Grabinsky said that if anyone is heading out into the backcountry, they can report anything unusual to the RCMP at 250-837-5255.
The plane is a white Mooney.
On Wednesday, the family started an online gofundme campaign to keep raising money for the search.
As of this writing, it had raised $5,970 of its $40K goal.
“We are in Revelstoke doing everything we can to keep this search active among locals with backcountry skills such as skiing, snowmobiling, mountain guides, etc,” the campaign’s description says. “However the search is progressively getting more expensive due to aviation crews and costs.”
The campaign was created by Neron’s sister, Tammy, who has been in Revelstoke since Saturday.
“We are not giving up till [sic] my brother and Ashley are found. It breaks my heart when the military, people you can depend on the most during these devastating times are the first ones to walk away,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “I know it’s protocol for them at this point, and their hard work is appreciated, but there are humans that are desperately fighting for their lives out there. You do not call off a search until they are found.”
Another family member, Kate Sinclair also took to Facebook to promote the campaign.
“Now the search is on the families backs to find Dominic Neron and Ashley Bourgeault,” she wrote today. “The only way to do this is with expensive helicopters and funds run out quickly. We need your help to bring our family home.”