Rick Vermiere, seen here with wife, Lucy, grew up with Darreld Rayner. The couple are among many Lake residents hoping for word. (Lexi Bainas/citizen)

VIDEO: Friends of long-missing man wait for news after remains found near Lake Cowichan

Speculation it may be Darreld Rayner, who has been missing for 10 years

Friends are hoping for news as the Coroners Service is investigating human remains found in the Cowichan Lake area on Dec. 23, amid speculation the remains may belong to Darreld Rayner, missing for 10 years.

Rayner went missing from Lake Cowichan in 2007, and no trace of what happened to him has ever been found.

Long-time friend Rick Vermiere remembers Rayner.

The two men grew up together, with their fathers sharing a love for competing in horseshoes. This brought Vermiere and Rayner, the two sons, together at fairs such as the Cowichan Exhibition and Sooke Days for the horseshoe tournaments.

“My dad and his dad were the two best horseshoe players in Youbou so they’d participate. They’d either compete as a single or they’d work together in a doubles match, two against two. My dad won the Island championship one year and then when my dad retired from it, Murray took over and he won the championship.

“We were always meeting at these fairs and because there’s wasn’t anybody else, not in our town, we were the only ones who knew each other and we liked to hang around with people we knew. We’d go see the sideshows at the fairs and go on the rides and hang out together. That’s how we got together. Him and I were the same age. He had an older sister and two younger ones so my sisters used to hang around with his older sister. That’s how we got to be as close as we were.

Both men also went to school together, and later, worked together at the Youbou mill for 30 years.

“Then, when the mill went down we were hanging out at our TimberLess meetings and protests together and stuff.”

Vermiere remembers the shock of Rayner’s disappearance.

“Then one day it was: Oh, he’s missing. We were all wondering what was going on. He had his routine, I heard. He’d go out and take his dog on the trail for a walk, then come back and carry on for the day. But he didn’t come back that one day. So we were wondering what was going on. Was it an accident? Was it something more sinister? We just kept in touch through the TimberLess Society, asking each other, have you heard anything? We kept on hoping.”

The coroner’s office confirmed the discovery of human remains near Lake Cowichan, but released little other information. Coroner Andy Watson said it could take about a month for testing results to become available.