Search and Rescue (SAR) crews are pausing the search for two Lil'wat Nation members missing in the Pemberton backcountry since last week.
In a statement posted to Facebook Tuesday afternoon, the Nation thanked Search and Rescue teams from Pemberton and across the province who have contributed to the search efforts for Peter Oleski and River Leo, a father and son who were last seen at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 22.
On Tuesday, "Search and Rescue has made the difficult decision to take an Operational Pause for three days," with crews set to return on Saturday, Oct. 31, the post explains. "We are anticipating 150-200 SAR volunteers from across the province on Saturday, along with the full resources available from the Province of BC. In the meantime, we know that our dedicated community volunteers will continue the search."
Oleski and Leo departed for mushroom picking in the Upper Mackenzie Basin Thursday afternoon, and were reported missing to RCMP and Pemberton SAR when they didn’t return home that night. An initial search quickly turned up the vehicle the pair had been travelling in—a red, 1997 Dodge 1500 pick-up—near the upper paragliding launch on the Mackenzie Forest Service Road.
According to the statement, signed by said Skalúlmecw Kúkwpi7 (Lil’wat Nation Political Chief Dean Nelson), the weather is changing, with the region likely to experience a warming trend over the next few days. "This will likely melt snow and has the potential to expose new evidence," the post reads. Any hikers or searchers who see something noteworthy are asked not to touch or disturb it. Instead, searchers are asked to set a GPS mark, flag it, take a photograph and report any findings to the Stl’atl’imx Tribal Police.
"Please remember to stay safe. Please continue to check in/check out, hike in at least groups of two and dress for the changing weather. The Pemberton Search and Rescue explored the three lakes near where the bottle was found and are confident that they have fully searched these areas," the Nation shared. Anyone continuing to search the area is asked to continue tracking routes and sharing .gpx or .kml files to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Nation also acknowledged some recent excitement regarding news that Leo's cell phone had turned on. "Unfortunately, this has been confirmed to have been someone calling his cellphone and the call going to voicemail," the post explains.
"It is amazing to see the community come together with such effort during this challenging time."
Oleski is described as a 48-year-old Indigenous male, standing at 6 feet 2 inches (188 centimetres) with a medium build. He has brown hair and hazel eyes, and was last known to be wearing black pants and a dark grey sweater.
Leo, 21, is an Indigenous male who also measures at 6 feet 2 inches, or 183 cm, with a slim build. He has brown hair and brown eyes.