On the fifth day of searching for lost hiker Melissa McDevitt near Sooke the hopes of finding her alive, while not gone, are diminishing.
“Certainly with each day the worry is greater, we are concerned about her survivability and we’ve had those conversations, teams are briefed that if she is located alive she’s going to be very hypothermic and is going to need to be treated very, very carefully,” said Paul Berry, President of Comox Valley Search and Rescue.
The 39-year-old’s father, who has travelled to Vancouver Island from North Carolina, is out for a second day helping with the search. He says he’s aware that at this point it would take a miracle for the happy reunion he is desperate for.
“We’re going to continue to hope that she’ll be a miracle but it’s equally important that we just have a recovery and that we can have closure for our family and take our daughter home,” said an emotional Tom McDevitt at the search site Wednesday afternoon.
While McDevitt is grateful to the nine teams of searchers spending every waking hour trying to find his daughter, the searchers themselves are equally grateful to have Tom there.
“His love for his daughter is immense and has been conveyed to the team, we’ve all seen it and I think that’s inspired the members to continue the search with good heart and great hope,” said Victoria Clarke, Manager of Juan de Fuca Search and Rescue.
Searchers on Wednesday were focusing on areas besides the trails Melissa most likely would have travelled but they’re also dealing with the possibility she could have become disoriented in the dark and wandered further off the trail system.
There’s also a likelihood that with Friday night’s wind storm she took cover, making finding her even more challenging. Yet nobody is ready to give up, including Tom McDevitt.
“I’m not remotely capable of finding my daughter but you’ve got to try and I might find that proverbial needle in a haystack and maybe that will be the gift of my lifetime to bring my daughter out.”
Search officials say they plan to scale back the search for Thursday and Friday but will return full force on the weekend with resources from across the province.