Cooper Nemeth's family calls for 'big push' in search for missing teen

Time is running out in the search for Cooper Nemeth, the Winnipeg teen who was last seen on Sunday.

Teen's aunt, Laresa Sayles, says family and friends will have to go back to regular routine Monday

Cooper Nemeth has been missing since Sunday, and his aunt said she is worried time is running out for the search. (Supplied)

Time is running out in the search for Cooper Nemeth, the Winnipeg teen who was last seen on Sunday.

Laresa Sayles, Nemeth's aunt, said the search needs "big momentum" heading into the weekend, as family, friends and volunteers will have to return to their regular lives and routines by Monday.

"I don't know how much I can personally do this every day," she said on Friday, the fifth day of the search.

"I definitely know Cooper's parents can't take much more of this. Neither can his grandparents."

Sayles described search volunteers as "exhausted," saying they have been out looking from morning until night.

The search expanded to include Lorette, Man., on Friday.

The teen's family has received tips from the public that two people who may have information on Nemeth's disappearance are from there, Sayles said.

Police released the first names of two possible witnesses — Derek and Brittany — on Wednesday. They had little information about them but described the car they were believed to be driving as a white four-door Honda Civic. No licence plate number was given.

Sayles is asking for help from anyone with a snowmobile, saying volunteers will search riversides, creeksides and floodways.

Other areas to be searched on Friday include Winnipeg's Southdale, Osborne and Corydon neighbourhoods.

Support from around Manitoba

On Friday, Lisa Breti, Jennifer Dumont and Stacey Doerksen gathered in Lorette to search for Nemeth.

Doerksen lives in Niverville, while Dumont is from Labroquerie and Breti lives in Winnipeg. They went to the Gateway Recreation Centre before heading out to Lorette to find out how they could help with the search.

While they don't know the teen or his family personally, the women say Nemeth's disappearance has made them feel close to them.

Lisa Breti, Jennifer Dumont and Stacey Doerksen are searching for Cooper Nemeth in Lorette, Man. on Friday. (CBC)

"We're here because we're mothers. We can't imagine what it must be like for the family," Breti said, nearly in tears.

"We're here for … answers for the family," said Dumont.

'We need you'

Volunteers from Winnipeg and surrounding areas have been the family's "rock," providing help and support, Sayles said. 

Cooper James Nemeth's aunt Laresa Sayles (left) and others are asking people to keep an eye out for the 17-year-old. (Erin Brohman/CBC)

Meeting new people who have stepped up to search for Nemeth, including those who volunteer with Winnipeg's Bear Clan patrol, has made Sayles aware of a reality faced by others in the city, she said.

"I want to create awareness to everyone that yeah, my nephew's missing, but so are a lot of indigenous women. Thelma [Krull]'s still missing.… My heart reaches out to all those families," she said.

Nemeth's parents, Brent and Gaylene, are "blaming themselves," Sayles said, noting she is, too.

"I never thought my life would ever experience anything like this, ever," she said, sobbing.

"And I just think the guilt's starting to come in, like, I didn't do enough. I wasn't there enough [for families of missing people]. Brent and Gaylene are beside themselves. We're blaming ourselves for this. I don't know if that's the right thing to do, but we don't know what else to think."

The community support is pulling them through, she said.

"We need you," Sayles said.

"We need you to keep us strong."

Anyone who wants to volunteer to help look for the teen can show up at Gateway Recreation Centre in Winnipeg at any time on Friday.


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