The search for a missing hiker near Gold River has been called off once again.
Laurence Philippsen, 65, of Black Creek, is described as an experienced solo hiker. He left on a 40-kilometre route on Monday, June 29 and was expected to return Thursday, July 2.
Crews searched an isolated area of Strathcona Park for four days before the search was called off on July 6.
But armed with new information about where Philippsen was thought to be heading, more than 40 friends and hiking colleagues as well as search and rescue crews and RCMP members conducted more searches over the weekend.
According to a Comox Valley Ground Search & Rescue Facebook post, 45 friends and hiking colleagues performed a “well-organized” search of a “predetermined ridge and drainage area” Saturday. Then, on Sunday, 42 searchers from Campbell River SAR, Comox Valley SAR, and Nanaimo SAR, including five K9 teams – both RCMP and SAR – were dropped into a remote area by helicopter and performed “extensive grid searches through difficult wooded and technical terrain.”
“Despite the new information and the combined thousands of person-hours of search effort over five long operational periods, no clues were produced to lead us to Laurence’s whereabouts amidst this rugged and remote area of Vancouver Island,” the post said.
While the active search for Philippsen has been suspended, a missing person’s investigation remains open with the RCMP.
Philippsen is described as Caucasian, five-foot-six, 160 lbs, with short silver hair and glasses.
He was last seen wearing a blue T-shirt, blue fleece sweater, beige hiking pants and had a large beige hiking pack. His shelter is a red tent.
Comox Valley SAR is asking any “well-prepared” hikers who plan to hike in this area of Strathcona Park to “keep vigilant for any sign” of Philippsen and to report any clues to the RCMP. The Nootka Sound RCMP can be reached at 250-283-2227.
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– With files from Scott Stanfield