Search winding down for missing Steveston secondary alumnus

Despite more than 100 volunteers and search and rescue teams scouring for clues, there’s still no sign of missing Steveston secondary alumnus Michael Gazetas.

Gazetas, 51, has been missing since Friday, Jan. 31 in the Courtenay area of Vancouver Island, without any contact.

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Friends and family raised almost $47,000 through a GoFundMe page to pay for a private search and rescue helicopter, but to no avail.

Twenty-one official search and rescue teams – including a power boat with sonar, a kayak, a plane and a helicopter - also spent last weekend looking for any trace of Gazetas but, again, failed to find any trace.

An estimated 70,000 Go Pro photos were taken from the air during the search, but there was still no sign of Gazetas, known to friends as Gaz, who often goes into natural areas for recreation.

The official operation was on top of an eight-day search by family and friends across Vancouver Island, who scoured surveillance and traffic cameras, handed out flyers and talked to people.

“The feeling is that if Michael was alive, we would have found him,” said his friend Sue Biely, who kicked off the crowdfunding campaign.

“He is a resourceful guy who would have lit a signal fire, something. This is obviously not the outcome we wanted and one that is hard to accept.

“This is a group of loyal friends who have worked tirelessly in the last week. We are film people and I think we all feel that if we mobilize and work hard, we can produce results, but all avenues have been exhausted and we are exhausted.

“We’ve done everything we can and looked everywhere we can for now. It’s a testament to Gaz that all of these people came out to search, to provide care, food, love, legal, financial, technical and communication support.”

Gazetas - son of the late Mary Gazetas, a pillar of the Richmond community for decades - was last seen leaving his house during a heavy rainfall in his red Ford Ranger pickup truck, license HX 4109.

His former music teacher at Steveston in the late 80s, Len Kay, reached out to the Richmond News last week in a bid to spread the word about the fund raising.

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