Search called off for missing Cowichan man

After an exhausting weekend with hundreds of boots on the ground, the official search for Tony Morley has been called off, although some efforts will continue.

The 79-year-old Morley was last seen on Sept. 21, and he is believed to have gone for a hike on Maple Mountain that afternoon. Since that time, Cowichan Search and Rescue has led efforts to find him.

Volunteers from the community and all over Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland joined SAR personnel for a ramped-up day-long search on Sunday, which yielded no results.

"There have been well over 2,000 search hours logged over the 23-square-kilometre search area and then some," said Cpl. Krista Hobday of the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP.

"Local residents allowed access to their property, gave over their GPS after conducting their own searches, and shared their local knowledge with Cowichan Search and Rescue. The family of Mr. Morley has been very helpful to the searchers letting them know points of interest and Mr. Morley’s likely path," Hobday said.

Sunday’s intense efforts covered terrain described by SAR as "brutal."

"Different efforts are placed in different areas based on the probability that they will be successful in their search, such as thick brush versus roads and trails," SAR manager Tina Phillips said. "It isn’t that we don’t believe Mr. Morley is on the mountain; we have just exhausted all efforts and resources available to us to locate him. It’s so terribly hard to stop."

Phillips added that the entire group was exhausted, but noted that honks and waves from passing motorists gave them huge morale boosts.

"It can be discouraging after so many hours that nothing has been found," she acknowledged.

Cowichan SAR used resources in the search for Morley that had not been available to them, including a helicopter and a search dog that is new to the Juan de Fuca area.

Cowichan SAR plans to conduct their monthly training exercises in the Maple Mountain area to further the search.

"Our group is also using our regular training night [Oct. 7] as an opportunity to debrief this task," CSAR president Mitch Wright said. "We debrief after every task and training session, but this search has been exceptional in its length, scope and level of community involvement."

Morley’s family plans to continue searching on their own, and hopes area users will also watch for him.

"We would like to thank all of the many people that gave their time to help find my Dad," Morley’s daughter, Venessa Fischer, said. "If anyone does go hiking in the area, that they keep an eye open for any sign of him."

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Drivesmart column: What does a traffic cop do?

I think most people see a traffic cop as someone who writes speeding tickets

Lake Flashback: Logging history, leaks, the EN and more

Do you remember these stories from back in the day?

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

‘Someone knows something’: a look into Vancouver Island missing persons with interactive map

There are more than three dozen people listed as missing throughout Vancouver Island

Mary Lowther column: Growing out your own seeds

Some crops like tomatoes don’t cross pollinate well

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Shellfish industry get funds to clean up at Island sites and beyond

Businesses can apply to cover half of costs to clean up so-called ‘ghost gear’

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Most Read