One week after two mushroom pickers mysteriously vanished from the wilderness east of Terrace, B.C., search and rescue crews have officially suspended their search.
A substantial effort that, at its peak, included multiple search and rescue crews, a helicopter, the RCMP, the Canadian Rangers and around 150 people combing the Lorne Creek area has failed to turn up any clues as to where Ike Murray, 26, and Michael (Devlin) Sabo, 32, could be, said Terrace Search and Rescue leader Dave Jephson.
Mr. Sabo's mother, Carol, told The Globe and Mail searchers found four full bags of mushrooms in the area – "not all in one place, rather like they had been dropped one at a time" – fuelling speculation that perhaps the men were chased. But with no other signs of the men, the bags have generated more questions than answers.
Search crews spoke with family members of the missing men about the "very difficult and heart wrenching decision" to suspend the search on Sunday night, Mr. Jephson said.
"It's unfortunate that, always, there has to be an end … Does the family want us to stop? No. Does the family ever want you to stop? No."
The missing pair, along with Mr. Sabo's younger brother, Connor, had taken a boat to the popular mushroom picking area, on the north side of the Skeena River, on Sept 22. The three planned to meet back at the boat at 4 p.m.; Connor Sabo waited until 7:15 p.m. and sought help when the two still had not appeared.
Their disappearance is made all the more curious by the fact it is a relatively confined area, difficult to get lost in.
"When Connor first came in that night and told me I had to call 911, he said, 'Mom, the creek's there, the river's there, the train tracks are there. Even an idiot couldn't get lost,'" said Ms. Sabo. "And it's true."
Despite search efforts that ramped up on Thursday to include shoulder-to-shoulder sweeps, there is no other indication of the two men ever having been in the area. Hazards include rocky terrain with lots of creeks and cliffs, Mr. Jephson said, and there are also bears in the area. However, With nothing to suggest the men encountered a bear, searchers believed they may have fallen into a crevice, or a body of water.
Ms. Sabo ruled out the possibility that her son may have simply taken off, noting he had moved closer to home to be with her when she battled cancer a few years ago.
"In my mind, they're in the river and they're never coming back," she said. "My son thinks someone has taken them.
"There's now a lot of talk about somebody living in the bushes who has got them. I guess that would be a good scenario because they would still be alive, anyway. I guess it is possible."
The RCMP is now investigating the matter as a missing persons case.