Formal search launched for missing Courtenay man

WatchMissing man's truck, spotted on surveillance camera footage, led to Search and Rescue getting involved today

A formal search has been launched Saturday to find a missing Courtenay man, after clues emerged about his potential whereabouts.

Michael Gazetas was last seen driving his bright red 2011 Ford Ranger Jan. 31.

Friends have been souring parts of Vancouver Island trying to narrow down the search area so that officials can step in. This week they say clues came in which said he drove north to Campbell River then headed out west on Highway 28.

READ MORE: New clues in Courtenay man’s disappearance.

“I think it’s incredibly important that search and rescue is officially tasked,” said his friend of 20-years Trish Dolman.

“He has been missing for seven days and we believe he is alive.”

Two fixed-wing aircraft, a helicopter and 11 teams are now searching areas near Campbell River, looking for any sign of Gazetas or his distinctive red truck.

Campbell River Search and Rescue and Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue are involved in the efforts.

Gazetas worked as a location scout for the film industry, and his friends say he is incredibly familiar with remote areas in the province.

“He has spent days of his life driving the back-roads of this province. He is a guy who knows the back-roads,” said Dolman.

“We think he went out for a drive and something has happened to him, it’s incredibly important we find him.”

He went missing around the time of a major rainstorm that hit parts of the Island.

Around twenty friends, including Dolman who is a former Lions Bay Search and Rescue member, have been working since his disappearance to narrow the search. A GoFundMe was launched to help hire helicopter trips to search the Island’s back-country.

Her husband who is a senior member of Lions Bay Search and Rescue has been leading many of the efforts.

Dolman says the film industry has been rallying to support the search.

“Michael is a incredibly well loved individual, he knew everyone in this film B.C. industry, the outpouring of love and support incredible,” she said.

They have even mounted cameras on the helicopter so they can review footage after area sweeps.

“On this clear beautiful day, it is the day to find Michael,” Dolman added.

The 20 friends are now joining formal crews in the search.

More to come

Julian KolsutJulian Kolsut

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