The search for missing hiker Gord Sagoo was suspended on Monday, after searchers exhausted every effort on Baby Munday Peak.
Sagoo went missing Sunday, Aug. 14, after breaking away from his hiking group on the mountain. The area is considered advanced climbing terrain, but Sagoo, 50, was an experienced outdoorsman and extremely fit.
Sagoo's determination and strength kept his family hoping he would be found alive. And searchers put in over a thousand hours looking for any trace of him, by land and air. They used specialized teams, thermal imaging, dog services, and even drones. But as of Monday, there had been no sign of the missing hiker. An announcement was made Monday afternoon that the search would be suspended.
The Chilliwack Search and Rescue stated "the search was both extensive and comprehensive in its execution. The dozens and dozens of search assignments included: visual and sound sweeps by ground SAR teams, aerial searches with RCMP rotary aircraft (Air 1 and Air 8) and commercial helicopter providers (Valley Heli, Talon Heli, and Blackcomb Heli), technical mountain rescue (MR) teams, HETS (long-line) teams, mechanical (ATV/UTV) ground search teams, a 442 Squadron Cormorant helicopter from Comox, RECCO SAR technology used to detect electrical component signals, RCMP Police Dog Services, an RCMP operated UAV (drone), Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR), and reviews of video footage."
"We are particularly appreciative of the support provided by Andrew Morrison (SAR Specialist, EMBC). Additionally, we are grateful to BC Corrections and the staff at the Ford Mountain Correctional Centre for allowing us to establish our Command Centre on their property," SAR wrote.
The family and friends of Sagoo were often present at the command centre area.
They also released a statement on Monday.
"The Sagoo and Jandu family would like to thank the Chilliwack Search and Rescue, Chilliwack RCMP and all the other associated SAR teams that have been involved in this search. Your courageous and tireless efforts have been nothing short of remarkable.
We have received an overwhelming amount of support from family, friends and the community. This is a true testament to Gordon’s character. We want to thank each and every one of you, from the bottom of our hearts, for your love, support and kind words. They are what has kept us going!
The family will continue the search privately via other channels. We have not given up hope of finding Gordon and it is important for us, and for all that have been affected, to gain closure. We express our deepest gratitude to everyone that has donated funds to this effort. Your generosity is what will bring Gordon home. We need continued support in order to keep our efforts going. To contribute now, go to www.gofundme.com/2k63gdg."
But the family also wants the public to know they don't want anyone else to get into trouble on the mountain.
"We stress that we do not want any personal or individual groups going up the mountain to search themselves. If anyone does want to go on a hike in that area it is imperative to please stay on the trail and be safe. We need to learn from this situation and do not want anyone else’s life to be put at risk."
Meanwhile, funds continue to pour in to support the search efforts. Sagoo was a well known trail runner and hiker, and his community of friends have been fundraising for the search and rescue teams. The Trail Runners raised $9,380 through a Canada Helps account, and Sagoo's family has set up a GoFundMe account and social media hashtag, Bring Gord Home.
So far, they've raised more than $24,000 to help in the search efforts.
Sagoo is from North Delta, and his friends and family there have been gathering daily to organize and strategize ways to help bring him home, says his niece Justine Jandu. They want to get the message out to as many people as possible, in the hopes of a tip that could lead to finding him.
"The more people that are aware the better chance we have of finding a clue and bringing him home," she says. "Gordon is a community leader, many people look up to him and are inspired by him for example every night, three of his running groups have gotten together organizing and strategizing ways to help bring him home."
She says they will do anything to bring him home.
He's not a normal person, he is our hero!"
RCMP say they will remain in close contact with the family, even as SAR has been stood down.