Exhaustive search turns up no trace of missing Courtenay man

Despite more than 100 volunteers and search-and-rescue teams scouring for clues, there’s still no sign of a missing Courtenay man.

Michael Gazetas, 51, has been missing since Jan. 31.

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Friends and family raised almost $47,000 through a GoFundMe page to pay for a private search-and-rescue helicopter.

Twenty-one official search-and-rescue teams — including a power boat with sonar, a kayak, a plane and a helicopter — spent last weekend looking for any trace of Gazetas on Vancouver Island.

An estimated 70,000 photos were taken from the air during the search, but there was still no sign of Gazetas, known to friends as Gaz, who often goes into natural areas for recreation.

The official operation was on top of an eight-day search by family and friends across Vancouver Island, who scoured surveillance and traffic cameras, handed out flyers and talked to people.

“The feeling is that if Michael was alive, we would have found him,” said his friend Sue Biely, who organized the crowdfunding campaign.

“He is a resourceful guy who would have lit a signal fire, something. This is obviously not the outcome we wanted and one that is hard to accept.

“This is a group of loyal friends who have worked tirelessly in the last week. We are film people and I think we all feel that if we mobilize and work hard, we can produce results, but all avenues have been exhausted and we are exhausted.

“We’ve done everything we can and looked everywhere we can for now. It’s a testament to Gaz that all of these people came out to search, to provide care, food, love, legal, financial, technical and communication support.”

Gazetas was last seen leaving his house during a heavy rainfall in his red Ford Ranger pickup truck with the licence plate HX 4109.

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