Jim Elliot/Salmon Arm Observer                                Drones are being used to help a search of several areas linked to the cases of missing women in the North Okanagan-Shuswap.

Jim Elliot/Salmon Arm Observer Drones are being used to help a search of several areas linked to the cases of missing women in the North Okanagan-Shuswap.

Dedicated volunteers look for clues

Police appreciate work of those who provide extra eyes for missing women investigations.

‘Extra feet on the ground and drones in the air’ is the way Wendy Mohr describes how she and others have been spending their time recently.

Mohr and Jody Leon are two of the people committed to making sure the four missing women and one whose remains were found in the North Okanagan-Shuswap are not forgotten. But their goal involves more than emails and posters. They are literally walking the talk.

“It’s been several weeks and we’ve been in many different areas. We tried to do a little bit in each area, based on tips we might get and parents of the missing might get,” says Mohr.

Missing are Caitlin Potts, Deanna Wertz, Ashley Simpson and Nicole Bell. The remains of Traci Genereaux were discovered on a farm on Salmon River Road.

Related link: Time to stem the tide of missing women

“We talk to people who live in the area and they give us permission to look on their land. We plan days where we go to search together… We are not experts,” she says, noting the searchers simply photograph anything that might be evidence, mark where it was found on the map and pass it on to the police. “We don’t determine whether it’s anything significant to the case. We don’t know everything they’re looking for. We’re just community members who go out and go looking for the police. It’s such a large area.”

She says police have been very good, “understanding of our efforts and appreciating them.”

RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Dan Moskaluk agrees: “We are aware of recent search efforts being conducted by private citizens in the North Okanagan communities. It is basic human nature for most to want to assist and support others.

“RCMP investigators never discount the efforts and the possible results that can be obtained by volunteers. In these instances it is always recommended to these groups, that they have ongoing communications with us. It is my understanding that this has been the case in these recent efforts.

“In many investigations it is information that is obtained from the public that can be a linchpin for advancing an investigation and this can be in the form of physical evidence found by a single individual or a collective group.”

Related link: Families of missing women call for action

Related link: Drones used in search for clues about missing women

Joining the walkers have been two drone companies, Crystal Mountain Aerial Media from West Kelowna and SkyCrew Aerial Imagery in Salmon Arm. Mohr says the volunteers do not try to analyze the footage – it’s given to experts.

Dakota Lalonde of SkyCrew said he has been on two of the searches. The first was earlier in the year when John Simpson, Ashley’s father, was in the region from Ontario to search for his daughter. Lalonde flies a drone and takes photos or video depending on the terrain.

“It’s taken us a few hours each time. I know the other area group did a search in the Salmon River area – six to eight areas. The first time we did our search, it was in the Enderby-Grindrod area, near the Enderby bridge…,” he says. “The other one was behind the Sagmoen Farm. We did a ground search on that one because it was raining. The group has been very diligent about acquiring permission.”

As a husband and father, he’s been touched.

“I’ve got a wife and two little girls – the victims being women, that hit home,” he says. “Also seeing the families there with very raw emotions – that does inspire you as a call to action to do more.”

Anyone with information about the five local women is asked to call the RCMP tip line at 1-877-987-8477.

To report a typo, email:
newstips@saobserver.net
.

@SalmonArm
marthawickett@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
211 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health over the weekend

Currently, there are 875 active cases of the virus in the region

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. As of April 19, more than 230,000 doses have been administered across the Interior Health region. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
More than 230K doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered across Interior Health

A total of 220,216 first doses and 13,775 second doses have been given to residents across the B.C. Interior

The City of Penticton is beginning work to install gates at the 200 Block breezeway on Main Street. (Dustin Godfrey/Western News file)
Penticton breezeway closed while city installs ‘decorative’ gates

The gates, estimated to cost $20k, are being installed to prevent ‘unwanted activity’

Louise with another load of bottles for ALERT. This super volunteer helps ALERT in so many ways. (Submitted)
Meet Penticton super volunteer Louise Hivon

Louise spearheads ALERT’s recycling fundraising, collecting bottles from anyone, everywhere

Oliver
A couple more South Okanagan schools with COVID-19 exposures

Penticton Christian School adds more exposure days, Oliver Elementary new on the list

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

A strange odour at a West Kelowna apartment building prompted the evacuation of 150 residents on Sunday morning, April 18. (Aaron Hemens - Capital News)
‘Do not occupy’ order lifted, residents of West Kelowna apartment allowed to return home

The building was evacuated early Sunday morning due to a strange smell

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

Vernon Search and Rescue’s helicopter team was asked to be on standby to rescue a missing hiker in Naramata. (Air Rescue One/VSAR photo)
Lost hiker rescued in Okanagan Mountain Park

COSAR, PENSAR, and VSAR worked together to rescue a hiker in Okanagan Mountain Park

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Increased COVID-19 activity brings vaccine clinic to Enderby

Registration opens Tuesday, April 20 for May clinic for anyone over the age of 18

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

courts
Penticton man guilty of assaulting young boys

Bryan Lamb was found guilty of two counts of assault

Abandoned Rail Brewing Company, located at 1220 Davenport Ave. on the KVR trail, has applied to the City of Penticton for a manufacturing facility and lounge endorsement. The city will review the application in their April 20, 2021 council meeting. (City of Penticton photo)
A new brewery could be coming to the KVR trail in the South Okanagan

The patio would seat up to 113 just 10 feet from the trail

Most Read