Tactics change in search for missing mushroom pickers

Two men have been missing east of Terrace, BC since Sunday

SEARCHERS looking for two missing mushroom pickers are changing tactics as they begin a fifth day of looking in a dense area east of Terrace, BC.

They’ll be walking closer together, shoulder to shoulder, and look for any sign of the men rather than being spread out and listening for sounds such as a whistle being blown, says Dave Jephson who is with Terrace Search and Rescue.

At this point, we’re thinking that it’s possible that they’ve got injured and they’re hunkered down,” said Jephson.

Did they fall down a crevice or a rock bluff, so we’re trying to look for that right now.”

Michael (Devlin) Sabo, 32, and Ike Murray, 26, have not been seen since they failed to return to a boat they used to travel up the Skeena River to the Lorne Creek area on the north side of the river Sunday, Sept. 22.

A third man with the pair had been picking mushrooms in a different location and returned to town to summon help when Sabo and Murray did not return.

The search area is not yet being expanded with the exception of two search teams, who did go outside the search perimeter yesterday, trying to rule out, for example, if the men tried to cross the creeks in the area, said Jephson.

That included searching the north side of Lorne Creek and the south side of nearby Fiddler Creek, he added.

A RCMP helicopter that helped out for two days did not take part in the search yesterday as it was called away, said Jephson.

But up to that point, it and a helicopter donated by Lakelse Air at the beginning of the search, put in 13 hours of time, he added.

Swift water technicians have been working their way up creeks to look for any signs of the men along the banks.

If they hunkered down, they can survive. It’s not that cold at night. They’d be hungry and time is of the essence so if they’re stuck in a tiny area of a rock bluff or crevice or under some trees, we’ll try to get in and cover those areas,” said Jephson.

We’re going into more of a dense style of searching so we appreciate the community and people coming to help,” he said.

Terrace Search and Rescue is specifically asking for people who have training to search in the bush and who are team leaders, said Jephson.

The search and rescue office, where teams gather early each morning, is located on Greig Ave. across the street from the Skeena Liquor Store. The phone number is 250-635-4669.

In a conference call to provincial officials yesterday, the possibility of bringing in search managers and team leaders from search and rescue teams as far away as the Kootenays and the lower mainland was discussed, said Jephson.

Yesterday’s search involved 39 people, including family members and friends of the missing pair.

Team leaders from search and rescue groups in Kitimat and Vanderhoof are also involved.

A search dog is not being used because there are other mushroom pickers in the area and the presence of lots of people and human contact makes it’s too difficult for a dog to search, said Jephson.