Search for Shtuka passes 12 weeks

Ping places phone in resort early morning

Searching equipment outside the search’s headquarters. Photo SPIN.

When Heather Shtuka arrived in Sun Peaks late at night Feb. 17 after her son Ryan was reported missing, she had no idea she and her husband Scott would still be searching in the resort 12 weeks later.

New information released by the family described a cell phone tower ping at 3 a.m. on Feb. 17 that placed Ryan’s cell phone in Sun Peaks. No information was available on the exact location of his phone.

That fact, other information the family has,  as well as mother’s intuition means Heather believes Ryan is still in Sun Peaks.

She said she has heard doubt he is still here as so much snow has melted and he is yet to be found.

“He’s in an area where there’s still lots of snow,” she said, adding that some areas they are searching are higher up the mountain and have waist deep snow in places.

“There are so many paths, trails and ways that he could’ve gone. We don’t know his state of mind, level of intoxication, if he was becoming hypothermic.

“You expect that this will be over soon,” she said. “It’s like Ryan left that house and just disappeared into thin air.”

Gifts given to the family by volunteers. Photo SPIN.

The change in seasons also means a change in searches, continuing grid searches without the need for shovels and probes in most areas. A plane has passed over searching and an RCMP helicopter has flown over the area several times since snow began melting.

Heather said because his clothes would now be wet and potentially dirty he would be difficult to spot from the air.

“We’re now looking at more of a discovery (of Ryan). Likely someone will stumble across him and that’s heavy.

“We had hoped we would be able to find him while he was still in the snow and preserved with no animal contact or decomposition.”

The search’s command centre has moved from hotels into the old Health Centre portable and more than 700 volunteers have helped search over the last few months.

More search and rescue dogs from the Canadian Canine Search Corps (CCSC) will come to the resort this weekend. Another search team from Victoria, B.C. will work in the resort May 19 and 20. The Search and Rescue Dog Association of Alberta (SARDAA) is also trying to come to Sun Peaks in May.

Heather said different types of trained search dogs and less snow may give them higher chances of success.

According to Heather, Kamloops Search and Rescue may return for another search of the area around the May 20 weekend depending on weather and snow melt.

Volunteers have also walked logging roads and trails between Whitecroft and Sun Peaks, others from ATVs and quads.

Ryan Shtuka was last seen Feb.17 on Burfield Dr. wearing grey pants, a grey and white shirt, a burgundy hat and a navy coat.

A charter plane of searchers from Edmonton, Alta. will arrive May 12 to search for two days alongside other volunteers driving to the resort from across B.C. and Alberta.

On May 12 an event will be held at Red Collar Brewing in Kamloops to raise money for the family who are paying rent in Sun Peaks as well as household expenses in Beaumont, Alta. Funds are also used towards supporting volunteers, search dogs, signage and more.

Heather said that although she truly believes he is in Sun Peaks, they are missing important time with their two daughters at home in Beaumont. Although the girls have been able to spend some time in Sun Peaks Heather has had to miss her eldest daughter Jordyn’s preparation for high school graduation.

“They have part time jobs, I missed grad dresses, alterations, shopping. Her birthday is June 6.”

She said if they cannot recover Ryan soon she and Scott will discuss going home.

“We will be leaving. Our kids need us. I think Ryan will understand.”

Ryan was last seen in the early morning hours of Feb. 17 at a house party on Burfield Drive. He was wearing dark grey jeans, a white and grey shirt, blue jacket and burgundy hat. Anyone with information has been asked to contact the RCMP or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477.


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