Eva Couture needs Chilliwack’s help.
She’s launching a civilian search of Elk-Thurston hiking areas in the hopes of finding her son, Kristofer Couture. The 25-year-old hasn’t been seen since Jan. 26, but his car was spotted by an RCMP at a trailhead in the area the following day.
That information has been held confidential for some time by police, but the new search demands that people know where he is believed to be.
“The police do believe he’s on that mountain,” Couture told The Progress this week. “That’s where they’re concentrating the search.”
The civilian search already has the support of a Chilliwack hiking group, and Couture is trying to get the word out in case anyone else wants to join in. That search is planned for July 7 and volunteers will be required to report to a command centre.
“I’m never going to turn away someone who wants to help,” she said.
There have also already been two searches of the area by Chilliwack Search and Rescue.
Couture said she’s been overwhelmed by the help and support from people in Chilliwack, and she doesn’t live in the area is relying on as much help as possible.
She also wants to appeal to anyone who hiked the area between late January and now to come forward with any information they have about the trails. The hope she and the RCMP hold is that someone noticed something they considered insignificant, but could have deeper meaning to investigators.
Kristofer Couture moved to the Lower Mainland in January from Edmonton to work in the construction. His mother said he moved here because of a lack of work at home, and because he loved the weather and the scenery.
There are a few things the RCMP do know. Kristofer went to work the morning of Jan. 25 in Maple Ridge and then the Good Life Gym in Burnaby later that same day. The last time they believe Kristofer used his Visa or bankcard was at a grocery store in Coquitlam on Jan. 26 around 1 p.m.
Then his car, a grey Saturn, was first spotted on Elk Thurston Trail, near Chilliwack, by a police officer who happened to be there on Jan. 27.
His car may have been broken into after that, as a picture taken that night shows glass on the ground.
She is asking avid hikers to remember to keep a watchful eye out for anything that could be a clue. The civilian search begins at 10 a.m. on July 7. Command Centre number one will be at the parking lot at the base of Elk Mountain and the search will focus on Elk-Thurston trail. It’s suggested people carpool due to limited parking space. Searchers will be required to fill out a waiver.
“There are kind people in this world and I couldn’t do this on my own,” Couture said.
Those wishing to confirm their attendance in the search can do so through her Facebook page, Missing: Kristofer (Kris) Couture. Those who can’t hike but wish to help can do so by helping with a flyer blitz around the lower mainland. Posters are going up in Burnaby, Vancouver, New Westminster, Coquitlam, Surrey, Langley and Chilliwack.
There is also a GoFundMe account set up to help contribute toward the cost of the search, as countless volunteer organizations are also aiding Couture in the search. It’s currently sitting at about $2,800 toward a $10,000 goal.
“There is one thing that has been a positive in this nightmare,” she said. “To the people who have reached out and offered their homes for us to stay when we are involved in search activities in the Chilliwack area, the store manager of Safeway in Chilliwack who continues to reach out and ask if there is anything she can do, to the random woman at Staples in Chilliwack who paid for the photocopies of my son, the thousands of people who have shared his picture, to my entire Sobeys work family, my personal friends, my family, thank you, thank you, thank you.”
• READ MORE: Missing Chilliwack man not heard from since January
When Couture first appealed to the public, at a press conference with the RCMP at her side in Chilliwack, she was overcome with emotion.
“I’m missing a piece of me not knowing,” she said at the time. “Many people have asked me about my son. What I want [people] to remember is that he is not only a son. He’s a brother. He’s a grandson. An entire family who loves him and misses him.”
Kristofer Shawn Couture is described as a Caucasian male; height 173 centimetres (5’8”); weight: 86 kilograms (190 lbs); with brown hair and brown eyes.
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Kristofer Shawn Couture is urged to contact the Chilliwack RCMP at 604-792-4611 or, should you wish to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).
-with files from Paul Henderson, Chilliwack Progress