Dewi Griffiths and Shawnene Nicholls of Cowichan SAR brief members of several search and rescue groups on what is planned for the day early Saturday morning. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

Searchers for Vancouver Island father turn focus to Cowichan River

Cowichan SAR joined by many other SAR groups, volunteers now determined to find missing man

“Today, we bring Ben Kilmer home!” Shawnene Nicholls of Cowichan Search and Rescue told the assembled searchers before they headed out Saturday morning.

It marks three days of searching since Vancouver Island dad Ben Kilmer was reported missing. His vehicle was found with the engine running Wednesday afternoon along the rural Cowichan Lake Road.

Overnight Friday, Cowichan Search and Rescue (SAR) moved its search headquarters to the field behind the Sahtlam Fire Hall, just a short distance west of the place on Cowichan Lake Road, east of Menzies where they’d been working from Thursday and Friday.

Dewi Griffiths and Shawnene Nicholls led the 8:30 a.m. briefing for all the searchers, who included personnel from Cowichan, Salt Spring Island, Metchosin, and Peninsula SAR teams plus the Ladysmith-Cowichan Swiftwater team.

READ MORE: Blood found in missing man’s vehicle

Leaders give searchers their orders before they head out to look for missing Ben Kilmer on Friday morning. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)


GoFundMe page launched by friends to fund helicopter

Friends of Kilmer’s family have now setup a GoFundMe page, looking to raise enough funds for a private helicopter to help with the ongoing search efffort.

In a post on Facebook, Tonya, Kilmer’s wife urged anyone who could to come and help with the search.

“I believe in every ounce of my being that we are close,” she said.

“I need drones, helicopters, planes!! Anything and everything! He is there!”

Ben Kilmer has been missing since Wednesday evening in the Cowichan Valley. (Facebook)

Search changes focus to Cowichan River

At the search headquarters Saturday morning, there were a good number of members of the public who showed up to help out in the search.

The search is now moving more towards the Cowichan River, and the combing of the area that had been grid-searched yesterday is now complete. Plans were being made to get the searchers access to the river as needed.

Kilmer, 41, vanished Wednesday. His white van was found, still running, by the side of Cowichan Lake Road and by late that same night a search had been launched. On Thursday, more teams from across the Island joined the effort.

There has been a concerted effort among the public, too, as friends and family wait for Kilmer’s return.

“This man was really loved. We all know that,” said Nicholls as she encouraged the SAR crews.

With files from Ashley Wadhwani

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