An extensive five-day search for a missing mushroom picker in the Nass Valley has come to an end with no success.
On Oct. 9, RCMP called off the search for a 65-year-old man named Greg Agnew but are still looking for more information.
“It’s an active case. We’re still looking for leads and information that will help us to locate Mr. Agnew,” says Lisims-Nass Valley RCMP corporal Tom Gill.
“Once we had the report, we started turning things up immediately, trying to figure out the exact time frame.”
Agnew, known to travel often through the Northwest, was reported missing on Sept. 30 by another mushroom picker who noticed he never returned to his campsite. Terrace Search and Rescue (SAR) placed the campsite approximately 40 km north of New Aiyansh near Squish Rd, a logging road area. He is believed to be last seen on Sept. 27.
Gill says it was expected that Agnew had gone into Terrace, so they had to confirm by seeking video footage of him in town and checking bank records.
Then on the morning of Oct. 5, Terrace SAR was notified by police to assist with the search and sent out eight of their members alongside people from many other search and rescue groups.
The search was an intense collaboration between many organizations in the area including the Bulkley Valley Search and Rescue, Prince Rupert Search and Rescue, Prince George Search and Rescue, Fort St. James Search and Rescue, Houston Search and Rescue, the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association and the Nisga’a Wildland Fire Fighting team.
RCMP air services and a police services dog were also utilized in the search.
“We searched kilometres… we had guys going each day,” says George Lebleu, Terrace SAR manager, of the search. “It was an extensive search by massive personnel.”
On the Northern British Columbia Mushroom Pickers, Buyers, Prices group on Facebook, a user posted on Oct. 11 pleading for the public to continue looking for Agnew.
“With the official search for Greg Agnew being called off we pickers need to keep looking for him. This could happen to anyone of us. Greg has family and they care about him and are very worried. Over the last few days, his two sisters, his brother, his ex-wife and his son and daughter all reached out to me looking for answers. They feel helpless, are shocked and most of all deeply saddened by the events,” the post reads.
“They only learned about this a day or two before the search was being called off, so this adds additional stress and confusion. His daughter has fond memories of her dad taking her mushroom picking in the Nass Valley as a kid.”
The post writer says that little is known on what could have happened to Agnew, but writes that he was said to have arrived back in camp with only two hours of daylight left and placed items from his recent trip into town into his van.
They add, “There is a good possibility that he left camp in a paranoid state of mind that caused him to act irrational. He was very experienced in the bush and spent years camped in the wilderness, but without the proper equipment things can go wrong in a hurry. Evidence suggests (keys found by the 12km marker) that he wander up the Squish Road (camp is between 10 and 11km).”
RCMP could not comment on whether there were any keys found or the exact location he was seen at.
The post includes that signs of a recent fire were found near an old camp he stayed at during past years, with a burnt pack of cigarettes in the fire, which the post writer suggests could’ve been Agnew and asks if anyone started the fire.
“I do not want to create false hope, but we do need to explore this,” the post continues.
“Last year’s search was the biggest search in BC history. Greg’s case has flown under the radar and received very little attention. It is up to us to change this. Who knows, Greg might be sitting somewhere, unable to move…”
It is also believed that Agnew has gone missing before. A family member emailed the Terrace Standard on Oct. 12, saying they had submitted a missing person report to RCMP a few years ago after three months with no word from him.
Gill says RCMP could not confirm or comment on that.
If you have any information regarding this case, please contact the Terrace RCMP at (250)638-7400 or anonymously through Crime Stoppers by telephone at 1-800-222-TIPS or online at www.terracecrimestoppers.ca.