Volunteer team uses drones in search for missing women

A search team in B.C.'s Interior is using drones to aid in the search for four women who have gone missing from the area since early 2016.

Team shares findings with RCMP to aid in its investigations

Drones can explore areas difficult for people to get to, which is why the volunteer search team is using them to try to find the women missing from the Shuswap area. (Wendy Mohr)

A volunteer search team based in Enderby, B.C. — 37 kilometres northwest of Silver Creek where human remains were found last month — is using drones equipped with cameras to help find out what happened to other women missing from the area.

Five women have been reported missing in the rural area near Silver Creek since 2016: Caitlin Potts, 27; Ashley Simpson, 32; Deanna Wertz, 46; Nicole Bell, 31; and Traci Genereaux, 18. Human remains found at a Silver Creek property in early November were confirmed to be those of Genereaux.

Wendy Mohr, one of the searchers from Sicamous, said she's spoken with some of the family members of the women who have gone missing in the area, and because they're mostly from out of the province and Mohr is nearby, she wanted to help.

"I raised my family in the Shuswap and feel like this whole area involved in these searches is personal to us," she said.

Cpl. Dan Moskaluk of the RCMP confirmed that the drone search team is working in cooperation with local RCMP to search for clues related to the missing women. 

The search team is looking for clothing, footprints, disturbed soil, evidence of human activity or anything that seems out of the ordinary. If they find anything or collect any images of interest, they alert local RCMP.

"We felt that it wasn't possible for any one group to cover enough ground," Mohr said. "It's a very large rural area where the women have gone missing and it wouldn't be able to see it all."

The group decided to use drones because of the size of the area and its varying terrain. The team goes out with the drones whenever they can round up enough volunteers to do a safe investigation, and if they get a tip from the public about something that may be of interest.  

Approximately 20 people are involved in the drone search team operating out of Enderby, B.C. (Wendy Mohr)

Two drone companies, Sky Crew Aerial Imagery from Salmon Arm and Crystal Mountain Aerial Media from Kelowna, are donating their time and the use of their drones to help with the search.