The search for a mushroom picker who vanished near Terrace, B.C., more than two weeks ago has resumed, one day after his friend was found alive.
But after speaking with Ike Murray, 26, who is recovering in hospital, Terrace Search and Rescue crews believe Michael (Devlin) Sabo, 32, is dead, search leader Dave Jephson said on Tuesday.
The two men were reported missing on Sept. 22 when they did not return from a mushroom picking excursion in the Lorne Creek area along Skeena River. A week-long search that included helicopters, the RCMP and shoulder-to-shoulder sweeps yielded nothing.
On Monday afternoon, CN Rail employees driving a maintenance truck near Fiddler Creek spotted Mr. Murray walking along the tracks. He is in stable condition at Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace, RCMP Constable Angela Rabut said.
“We did interview Ike [on Monday] but, as you can understand, he was quite confused and disoriented from wandering in the bush for two weeks,” Constable Rabut said.
On Tuesday morning, Terrace Search and Rescue members spoke with Mr. Murray for about an hour, going over maps to determine where Mr. Sabo may be.
“At this point in time, we believe he’s … eight to 15 kilometres into the back end of Fiddler Creek, which was one of the creeks bordering the [original] search area,” Mr. Jephson said, noting a ground crew has located a backpack belonging to one of the two men.
While police and searchers cannot confirm Mr. Sabo’s condition until he is located, Mr. Murray has indicated his friend is dead.
“We believe that, at this point in time, Devlin Sabo is deceased,” Mr. Jephson said. “We’re doing everything we can to try and locate his last whereabouts.”
Constable Rabut said the two were lost in the wilderness together and separated when Mr. Sabo was “unable to hike out.”
Preliminary information has raised questions. Mr. Murray has told authorities, for example, that the two saw search helicopters overhead several times, Mr. Jephson said.
“I don’t know why that would be the case, because that doesn’t make any sense,” Mr. Jephson said. “We’re told that they had fire. If they had fire, why didn’t they make it so we could see it?”
As well, searchers are wondering why it appears the two men followed Fiddler Creek upstream rather than down.
But answers will come later, Mr. Jephson said: “There’s no question that [Mr. Murray] has gone through a crazy ordeal. It’s going to take time for him to have everything set in. He’s going to need time with his family. We encourage him to take time with his family and not get bogged down with all the crazy stuff that’s going to follow.”
Meanwhile, the RCMP is reminding people to stay put if they get lost – especially in the crucial first few days.
“Let Search and Rescue come and find you,” Constable Rabut said.