Nearly five and a half months after Ryan Shtuka disappeared from a house party on Burfield Dr. in Sun Peaks, B.C., searchers continue to canvass the resort and surrounding areas in hopes of finding a shred of evidence.
Ryan’s parents, Heather and Scott Shtuka, returned to the resort in late July and met with Kamloops RCMP during their visit to learn what has been carried out by investigators.
Cpl. Jodi Shelkie said the RCMP helicopter has made 10 trips to Sun Peaks so far, a total of 20 hours flight time, to search specifically for Ryan.
A dive team also carried out a search of McGillvray Creek on July 6.
“There is nothing that indicated he could be in the creek besides the fact that, in the winter, the snow removal machines push snow onto the creek bank so when it melts, it runs into the creek,” Shelkie said. “In case Ryan’s body was in the snow that was moved to the creek, we wanted to search the creek. As well, the creek runs between where Ryan was last seen and his residence. While it is not the usual way for someone to walk, it is possible that Ryan took this route across the creek.”
Shelkie confirmed footage from municipal security cameras, pointed at the two possible exits to Sun Peaks, were obtained and reviewed but “nothing of relevance came from the video.”
She also confirmed all people in Sun Peaks who were associated with Ryan were interviewed but could not comment on the outcome.
With the investigation ongoing she was unable to comment specifically on other areas of police work but said the evidence so far indicates the last place he was seen was Sun Peaks, and despite no evidence of foul play, it cannot be completely ruled out.
“The number of volunteers who searched, and are continuing to search, Sun Peaks is definitely out of the ordinary,” she added. “Each missing person case is unique but the family and friends of Ryan Shtuka have continued their search efforts during the winter, spring and into the summer. This case is unique in that Ryan’s family lived a distance away from where he disappeared but chose to stay for a significant amount of time in Sun Peaks in order to organize private searches.”
While searchers carried on, the family was on a vacation with their daughters through Europe that was planned prior to Ryan’s disappearance.
Heather said it was a good reminder nothing is perfect.
“It was a realization, they (those they met abroad) think this is what we have. I sort of felt lost. They’d say ‘Is this your family?’. They’re just asking out of politeness but how do I answer that?”
One way they paid tribute to Ryan while travelling was with charms with words like dream, hope, faith, love, wander and more. Each was engraved with “Ryan John Marcus Shtuka” and left in places as they moved from the Coliseum in Rome to Cannes, France. The family also took time to light candles at churches they visited.
“Wherever we went each day that was dedicated to Ryan for that short period of time,” Heather said.
Coming back to Canada, and then to Sun Peaks was a shock to the system. Heather said she and Scott are always speechless as they make the drive up the mountain.
“We’re in a place between feeling hopeless and wondering where to start and hopeful.”
For the rest of the summer they will split their time between their home in Beaumont, Alta. and Sun Peaks. Heather stated they will return monthly until the snow falls and resume their search as soon as it melts.
She said she maintains her belief he’s in the resort area.
“It is possible if you know Sun Peaks. It’s like he walked out of the house or out the door and just disappeared.”
Until Ryan is found Heather continues to grapple with what her family is enduring.
“It’s not far from my mind. Some parents of missing kids will go their whole lives and pass away without knowing what happened to their child.
“I only need one person to find Ryan but I don’t know who that person will be.”