Quebec father returns again to look for missing son 

Case of Jonathan Jetté and Rachael Bagnall remains open, unsolved after two years

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - still looking Jonathan Jetté & Rachael Bagnall at Semaphore Lakes
  • Photo Submitted
  • still looking Jonathan Jetté & Rachael Bagnall at Semaphore Lakes

Jonathan Jetté is never far from his younger brother's mind.

Though he has been missing for two years now, vanishing with his girlfriend Rachael Bagnall while hiking in the Pemberton backcountry, he is always present, his disappearance never far from Miguel Jetté's thoughts.

"I always think about it... it's hard to understand," Jetté emailed this week. "My wife and I think about it and talk about scenarios still. It's haunting our family quite a bit."

This weekend will be particularly hard, with the Labour Day holiday marking the two-year anniversary of that ill-fated trip into the backcountry.

Jetté's father is on his way back to Pemberton from Quebec this week, back to walk the trail that Jon and Rachael walked two years ago. He will likely come upon the simple wooden cross left there by Rachael's family last year.

Jetté's mother will come next week. Both were here this time last year, both still searching for their son.

There is no rest, no peace, for the Jettés.

"In the past two years, I've made a point of trying different things, and I always tell myself, "do it for Jon," said Miguel. "So Jon is here with me no matter what. It's just not right to not know what happened."

The tragic and puzzling case of missing hikers remains open with the Whistler RCMP but unresolved.

On Sept. 4, 2010 the couple went into the backcountry north of Pemberton, parking Jetté's car on the Spetch Creek Forest Service Road, the access point for a five hour hike into Valentine Lake, in the shadow of Cassiope and Saxifrage Mountains.

They never came home. No trace of them was ever found, save the car on the bumpy, dusty road.

"The case is open and we check out any leads as they come in," said Whistler RCMP Staff Sgt. Steve LeClair.

Those leads, however, have been few and far between.

Jetté's family asked police to contact Matt Gunn, author of

Scrambles in Southwest British Columbia, and to pick his brain on possible theories of what went wrong that September long weekend.

"It's hard not to feel some involvement there on some level," said Gunn, knowing that the couple used his book.

"I've certainly spent some time thinking about it and trying to figure out, in my mind, what might have happened."

He shared his thoughts this week.

Gunn said there is a creek close to the trailhead, which disappears as you head into the lake.

There is another creek flowing out of the lake — Peq Creek — and it leads into some pretty nasty terrain.

Gunn said he's had emails from people who have followed the wrong creek on the way out.

"It just seems like the most likely possibility in my mind," he said.

"It's just a theory. It's not really worth a whole heck of a lot."

But it's something. Another piece of the puzzle. Once again pointing back to Peq Creek.

That's where the initial search focused in the days after the couple was reported missing.

For Dave Steers, who led that search with Pemberton Search and Rescue (SAR), the creek is a constant reminder — it is visible from the SAR base.

"It's just right there; it's just so close," he said.

There have really been no significant clues, no hard leads, as to what happened to Jetté and Bagnall. No backpacks. No leftover campsite.

That vacuum of information has been the constant refrain of this particular search said Steers.

"You think there'd be something, somewhere, and yet so far, no. Nothing," he added.

For the family, thousands of miles away, there is another possibility.

"To be completely honest, I always think of the "foul play" scenario," wrote Miguel Jetté. "It's one thing that hasn't been looked into very much and it always makes me wonder. What if."

The scenarios of what happened at Valentine Lake or on the Spetch Creek Road or in the forest all around are endless.

"I think it's important for people to remember and know to look around a little bit when they are up on the mountain," wrote Miguel. "You never know what they'll see."

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