Rick Vermiere, seen here with wife, Lucy, grew up with Darreld Rayner. The couple are among many Lake residents still hoping to hear what has happened to him. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

VIDEO: Friends of Darreld Rayner hope for news after human remains found at Lake

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

The Coroners Service is investigating after human remains were found in the Cowichan Lake area on Dec. 23, amid speculation the remains may belong to Darreld Rayner, missing for 10 years.

Rayner, a Lake Cowichan resident and member of the Youbou TimberLess Society, went missing in 2007, and no trace of what happened to him has ever been found, although friends and family have never given up hope of finding him.

“I can tell you the Coroners Service has been called to investigate found human remains at Lake Cowichan last week but at this stage we have not determined the identity of the decedent,” said Andy Watson of the BC Coroners Service. “In order to determine the identity of the deceased, we will be doing some testing of samples (per normal procedure).”

Watson said it may take about a month for testing.

Dewi Griffiths, president and a search leader for Cowichan Search and Rescue, said “the Saturday, Dec. 23 recovery was to assist RCMP and Coroner, but I’m not sure we can comment other than to say our team performed a difficult task with professionalism and dedication in tricky, snowy conditions.”

The details of Rayner’s disappearance are sketchy.

On May 7, 2007, Rayner, who was 52 years old at the time, went missing while walking his dog.

He was last seen at about 8:30 a.m. walking along Fairservice Main logging road, roughly three kilometres from his home. Beginning that afternoon, an extensive search was conducted by RCMP and local search and rescue crews, with the assistance of family and volunteers.

Rayner’s dog, a Jack Russell terrier, was found that night by searchers, as was a coffee cup belonging to Rayner.

An intensive search, which included the use of tracking dogs and helicopters, covered that area thoroughly. The search went on for several days, and more than 3,400 search hours were expended.

Even after the official search ended, the family and other volunteers continued to search for Rayner in the area south of Lake Cowichan for several more months, never giving up hope that their family member and friend would be found.

***

Rick Vermiere of Lake Cowichan grew up with Rayner.

“His dad and my dad played horseshoes. And they used to go everywhere to compete. They would go to the Cowichan Exhibition and Sooke Days. At any of those fair kinds of things they had horseshoe tournaments. And 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.

“We both went to school together. Then we both signed up and worked at Youbou for just about 30 years each. Then, when the mill went down we were hanging out at our TimberLess meetings and protests together and stuff.

“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.”

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

Just Posted

Vancouver Island under a thunderstorm watch tonight

Environment Canada forecasts downpour and possible thunder and lightning

UPDATE: Hundreds march against location of safe injection site in Duncan

A Voice for Our Children opposes centre being near schools, recreation sites

No new leads in Brown homicide case

Five-year mark passes without any additional information provided to police

Work progresses on Clement Centre’s new building in Cobble Hill

Sod-turning ceremony for facility held on Sept. 21

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

Cops for Cancer: COVID-19 can’t stop Tour de Rock

‘having the chance to come back and ride this year means everything to me’

‘It’s a boy’: Southern Resident killer whale calf born to J Pod is healthy, researchers say

J35 had previously done a ‘Tour of Grief,’ carrying her dead calf for 17 days

Most Read