The extensive, 33-day search for missing Whistler resident Clorrica Riggs culminated in tragedy on Sept. 25, leaving her loved ones grieving but grateful to have experienced her free spirit, her bright smile and her care for the people and places around her.
The body of the 29-year-old Whistler Blackcomb employee was discovered Sunday near a trail in the Rainbow Lake area, by an off-duty police officer reportedly out for a morning hike with his wife and dog.
Riggs was last seen on Tuesday, Aug. 23 at about 2 p.m., when she told friends she was heading out for a walk. Her car was later found parked at the trailhead to Rainbow Lake. Earlier that afternoon, Riggs sent a text to several of her closest friends. “The last message we got was ‘love you,’” those friends previously told Pique. “We are all holding that last message close to our hearts.”
In a release issued Monday, Sept. 26, police confirmed Riggs was found the previous day. “We extend our condolences to Clorrica’s family, and follow their lead in thanking community partners in helping search for her," Cpl. Angela Kermer, Sea to Sky RCMP media relations officer, said in the release.
Riggs’ older brother Colin will remember her as “a breath of fresh air,” he said through tears. “She could light up a room with her smile ... and cheer everybody up.”
In a phone call on Sept. 27, he painted a picture of an “angelic” woman who was “really big on helping people out” and always willing to drop everything to help a stranger, in spite of her own struggles with mental health.
Riggs was the youngest of six, growing up alongside two brothers and three sisters. She was born in Maple Ridge, B.C. and raised mostly in Alberta. Later, her travels brought her to Thailand for a meditation retreat, on road trips across the U.S., and eventually to Australia, where she lived for three years. “She loved the weather out there, that she could be able to do anything—hiking, swimming, surfing, any of those activities [year-round]... She just loved to socialize with people,” remembered Colin. “She loved the outdoors. That’s why she came to Whistler.”
Riggs moved to Whistler in January, finding work as a team lead in Whistler Blackcomb’s guest services department and, as usual, forming fast but deep connections. She made a lasting mark on her coworkers, said Colin, despite only calling the resort home for a few months. “She touched a lot of people’s hearts in Whistler. Anybody she met, that she worked with ... really looked at her like a big sister, because they could confide in her. She meant a lot to a lot of people, because a lot of people respected her values, her opinions and different ways of looking at [problems].”
In her spare time, Riggs reconnected with her love for skiing, and dove into new hobbies like snowboarding, mountain biking and climbing. “She would always challenge herself to learn new things all the time,” her brother remembered. She frequently practiced yoga, wrote poetry, was passionate about the environment and never left home without tossing her longboard in the trunk of her car, he added.
Colin echoed the RCMP’s thanks to the many individuals and groups who participated in the month-long search, including the Alberta-based, volunteer-run non-profit Canadian Canine Search Corps and CPA Recovery K9 Unit, as well as Riggs' employer, Whistler Blackcomb. The community’s continuous support and willingness to help “was overwhelming,” he said. In particular, Colin underscored his immense gratitude for his cousins Jim and Natalie Rock, who he said were “instrumental” in helping facilitate the search from their Whistler home.
In the weeks following her disappearance, everyone from long-term locals to day-trippers, RCMP officers to volunteer search-and-rescue crews and drone operators to helicopter pilots pulled together to scour thousands of kilometres of rugged terrain, ultimately helping bring Riggs’ family a little bit of closure.
Learning to live with this loss is "going be a journey; it’s going to take time,” said Colin. “To not have her presence around, it’s going to be very hard. But we have to take it one day at a time."