Courtenay man still missing, 65,000 images checked by searchers


In the days after he went missing friends led an exhaustive eight-day search for 51-year-old Michael Gazetas who was last seen Jan 31.

Surveillance footage shows his distinctive red Ford Ranger pickup truck in Campbell River that morning. Then at 3 p.m. that day, a man says he saw the same truck on Headbay road between Gold River and Tahsis.

“He was the one who believed he had the most positive sighting,” said Jay Pretula, Gazetas’ friend.

Ten days after he went missing the search was called off, but it was far from over.

“We had gathered about 65,000 images we wanted to view. Anything that was unusual, either something that seemed it could be buried in snow, something that had rolled down a ditch, something that was red,” added Pretula.

Go Pro cameras had been attached to helicopters that flew grids over the area, taking 65,000 photos.

“We basically have a small movie of images as we rolled through the hills, went over main roads, as we went over campgrounds, as we went over car park areas, tent campgrounds, like just everywhere we could think of, then places maybe we couldn’t get to by car,” he said.

A team of volunteers poured over every single photo, twice looking for clues. There are a couple of new leads but nothing that can be followed up until more snow melts.

“It’s the unknown that we don’t like. If we can’t find him we’d at least like to bring him home.”

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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