The search for a missing Courtenay man has been suspended pending further investigation, according to officials.
Michael Gazetas, a 51-year-old location film scout, was last seen leaving his home at approximately 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 31, around the time a major rainstorm hit parts of the Island.
A formal search was launched on Saturday, with Campbell River Search and Rescue (SAR) and Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue (SAR) involved in the efforts. Friends had been searching for Gazetas in the days prior. Last week, they said clues came in, which indicated he drove north to Campbell River then headed out west to Highway 28.
Two fixed-wing aircraft, a helicopter and 11 teams were part of the search.
On Monday, Gazetas’ friend of 20 years, Trish Dolman, wrote on Facebook and the GoFundMe page used to raise funds for the search efforts that RCMP and the local search and rescue teams will stand down.
“More than 52 official Search and Rescue volunteers came from as far away as Victoria, SaltSpring Island and Powell River. We thank all SAR volunteers and officials,” Dolman wrote.
“The feeling is that if Michael was alive, we would have found him. He is a resourceful guy who would have lit a signal fire, something. This is obviously not the outcome we wanted and one that is hard to accept. This is a group of loyal friends who have worked tirelessly in the last week. We are film people and I think we all feel that if we mobilize and work hard, we can produce results, but all avenues have been exhausted and we are exhausted. We’ve done everything we can and looked everywhere we can for now.
It’s a testament to Gaz that all of these people came out to search, to provide care, food, love, legal, financial, technical and communication support.”
Dolman also wrote on Facebook and the GoFundMe page that over 140 volunteers have come forward to look at 50,000 to 70,000 images from helicopter flights.
Gazetas was last seen driving a bright red 2011 Ford Ranger with the BC licence plate HX4109. He was wearing a red and blue poncho over a black shirt and vest, with dark coloured jeans and a green toque.
Anyone who sees Gazetas or knows where he is can call Comox Valley RCMP at 250-338-1321. If you wish to remain anonymous, call Comox Valley Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or http://comoxvalleycrimestoppers.bc.ca/