Daughter of missing Cowichan man has ‘millions’ of questions

Family members remained hopeful on Wednesday and Thursday as the search for 79-year-old Tony Morley resumed in the Maple Mountain area.

"Mostly, we’re just being a tight family," Morley’s daughter, Venessa Fischer said. "It’s one of those things, where you get up and you’re just, ‘What can we do? What can we do?’" Morley hasn’t been heard from since Sept. 21, when he is believed to have gone for a hike on the mountain. His car was found locked and undamaged beside Osborne Bay Road that day. He was last seen at the Duncan Wal-Mart just before 4:30 p.m. "There are a million and one questions, and no answers," said Fischer.

Fischer said her father was very active, even at the age of 79.

"He’s an Englishman, and he’s very self-sufficient. He’s been energetic and productive all his life. He didn’t really sit around and let moss grow under him."

Morley is an experienced hiker and had been on Maple Mountain many times in the past, but Fischer still had concerns, and had asked him to stop going alone and join a walking group.

"The problem of course is his dementia," she explained. "One second he remembers things, and the next second he doesn’t."

Morley’s cell phone didn’t die until Tuesday afternoon, so Fischer believes that if he could have contacted her, he would have.

Eight volunteers from Cowichan Search and Rescue, including a rescue dog team were on the ground beginning Wednesday, hoping to cover three different areas and local roads again. A helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft had been employed earlier in the search, but the tree canopy was too thick for them to be of further use. Teams also used ATVs on the roads and kayaks on the lake, with 65 volunteers logging 500 hours last Saturday alone.

The search was suspended on Monday and Tuesday. "The short break from searching will hopefully allow the dog team a better chance at success," Search Manager Tina Phillips said. "With so many people on the mountain in the last week, the dog team would have had a difficult time differentiating between searchers and a possible lead to Mr. Morley’s location."

Fischer said how much she appreciates the work of SAR.

"The efforts of the volunteer people have been amazing," she said.

Even as her dad has been missing for more than 10 days, Fischer is holding out hope for good news.

"My backpack still has a pair of gloves, a granola bar and water in it, because he’s going to be cold and hungry," she said.