Family of 79-year-old lost in remote woods of northwestern B.C. call for volunteer searchers
Thomas Dennis was last seen Sept. 16 in wooded, hilly area north of Hwy 16 between Smithers and Terrace
The family of a 79-year-old mushroom picker is asking for volunteers to help search the woods where he went missing nearly two weeks ago.
Thomas Dominic Dennis was last seen around 12:30 p.m. PT on Sept. 16 near the Price Creek Forest Service Road, in a remote area north of Highway 16 between Smithers and Terrace.
Marilyn Morrison has been out looking for her father every day since then, even as official rescue efforts have been called off.
"I'm trying to keep my spirits up and be positive, but it's certainly very trying," Morrison told CBC Radio West host Sarah Penton.
"I want my dad back."
RCMP say Dennis was last seen by a fellow mushroom picker, though they have reports he may have spoken to other people in the area, including a farmer.
He was dressed only in lightweight clothing — blue jeans, a black cap, black rubber boots and a grey checked sweater — and was not carrying food or any other supplies.
Making matters worse, Morrison says her father was not familiar with the area he went missing in.
"I'd say he's a novice, probably a beginner [picker]," she said.
Search and rescue crews have already conducted several sweeps of the area, aided by RCMP dogs and an air team, which used geothermal imaging to try to locate Dennis.
Several volunteers also joined in, but search and rescue teams said the additional tracks made their efforts more difficult and urged people who want to help in searches to register so they can be co-ordinated and deployed properly.
RCMP say the official search has been suspended as of Monday, but police are still asking anyone with information to call the New Hazelton detachment at 250-842-5244.
"Every piece of information is vital," said Staff Sgt. Darren Durnin.
Police say the search will resume if new information comes to light.
In the meantime, Morrison is still going out every day with friends and family members, and she's hoping to gather a large group to sweep the area Wednesday morning — two weeks since her father was last seen.
She said she's hoping to find a hat or some other clue that might help determine her father's whereabouts before the winter sets in.
"It's getting pretty cold," she said. "I'm begging: Please help."
- A previous version of this story contained an incorrect last name for Dennis.Oct 01, 2020 3:27 PM PT
With files from Nicole Oud and CBC Radio West