Search dogs and handlers with Canadian Search & Disaster Dogs Association are flying into Chilliwack to conduct another search for Kristofer Shawn Couture, who went missing Jan. 25, 2019.
Eva Couture, the missing man’s mother, said the RCMP are winding down the investigation after following up every tip and possible sighting called in by the public.
The young man’s car was found near a trailhead in the Eastern Hillsides on Jan. 26, but there’s been no sign of him since.
“I’m still not convinced that Kris is on the mountain, but it is all I have,” Couture said.
The family was not notified he was missing until May.
The Edmonton-based search dog group was contacted by Couture when the community of Chilliwack was co-ordinating search efforts for Ethel “Grace” Baranyk, a missing person whose body was later found.
“It didn’t work out at the time, and the dogs were being re-certified in September. But we’ve been in touch again since then and here we are,” Couture said.
The dogs of CASDDA are highly trained and deployed with volunteer handlers to search for missing persons, including those trapped under rubble or drowned.
“These are not hikers. They are looking for a body,” Couture said, her voice faltering with emotion. “I didn’t think we were going to do to do any more searches this year,but I will do anything I can do to find him.”
Kris Couture, 25, last made contact with family from Edmonton in January 2019, and there has been no word in the months since.
Although a series of ground searches were conducted in the Elk/Thurston hiking area where Kristofer‘s car was found, they will be taking the search dogs back to cover some of those areas once again.
If anyone happens to see the dogs and their handlers, they are asked to stay back and let them do their work.
It has been “amazing” for Couture just how supportive the community of Chilliwack has been assisting with different aspects of the search effort. People have gone out of their way and she doesn’t even know them.
“I will pay it forward,” she said.
For example, the cost of housing and feeding the volunteer dog handlers is being covered by community members in the Chilliwack area.
“The main message is to send a thank you to each and every person, whether it’s been a donation of accommodations, food, people’s time, or sharing his picture, every single act of kindness is appreciated,” Couture said.
As painful as it is for Couture to face Chilliwack, she plans to return to be present for her son’s birthday on Dec. 9.
“I will be there because I don’t know where else to be.”