Even as the news that the formal search for a missing plane would be suspended spread, family members were organizing their own effort.
Pilot Dominic Neron and Ashley Bourgeault were reported missing after their single-engine plane went missing somewhere between Penticton and Edmonton on Nov. 25.
The Joint rescue Coordination Centre Victoria (JRCC Victoria) has been coordinating the search and had focused its efforts near Revelstoke, where a ping from Neron’s cellphone was last located.
Family members arrived in Revelstoke over the weekend and have been speaking with search officials as well as canvassing the town.
Monday morning they were informed that at sunset, the formal search would be suspended.
“Over the last nine days, Royal Canadian Air Force and Parks Canada aircraft have flown approximately 120 hours in extremely challenging weather and conditions, covering more than 22,000 square kilometres in the areas surrounding the last known location, and likely flight path, of the missing plane,” the Maritime Forces Pacific posted to Facebook Monday. “The JRCC Victoria acknowledges the support we have received from Parks Canada and CASARA, and the information provided by Telus, Rogers, NavCanada and NORAD, which greatly assisted in narrowing the search area.”
The areas being searched are in the backcountry and conditions have been challenging for the search crews, battling inclement weather and tough terrain.
Tammy Neron, the missing pilot’s sister, has been in Revelstoke since Saturday.
She posted on Facebook this morning that they would be starting up a search and rescue force locally.
“With how amazing this city has been, welcoming us with their love and expertise on the backcountry mountain terrain I am confident in their ability to find Dom and Ash,” she wrote. “After today, the search area will be open to any pilots, snowmobilers, back country skiers, and mountain guides… anyone searching in these areas must be an expert in their field.”
In a Facebook post shared almost 1,000 times, The Revelstoke Snowmobile Club has asked members to keep an eye out for the plane and passengers.
The case will be transferred to the RCMP and will be treated as a missing persons case. Revelstoke RCMP were not available for comment.
“Keep Dom and Ash in your prayers,” wrote Neron. “We are never giving up.”