Still looking for missing son

Alanna Kelly

Over seven months have passed since anyone has seen 20-year-old Ryan Shtuka.

His family is still searching for him and believe he is still in Sun Peaks, B.C.

Shtuka was last seen at a house party on Burfield Drive at around 2:10 a.m. on Feb. 17, 2018. His residence was just a short one kilometre away but he vanished, never to be seen again.

He had only just moved to the area in December and was working as a lift operator at Sun Peaks Resort. His mother, Heather, says he was supposed to return home in April.

Every month the family returns to the area, after having lived at the resort for five months while they searched for Ryan, and hasn’t given up hope.

“I don’t think we ever thought we would be in this position in the first place, it wasn’t something we ever thought about,” she said.

Heather said she remembers the day she received the text that he hadn’t shown up for work.

“I could never imagine we could still be doing this at seven months,” she said. “I can’t believe that we could be doing this for the rest of our lives.”

Heather’s open and genuine dialogue about her family's relentless search to find their son has drawn Canada-wide attention, and over 28,000 people check for daily updates on the Missing: Ryan Shtuka Facebook group.

Through the difficult seven months, Heather still says she won’t ever stop looking.

“There is no guarantee this will ever end for us,” she said. “Sometimes if I think about it too much it is a little overwhelming.”

Until new information is discovered, Heather said they will continue to search the area around Sun Peaks.  

“I don’t think we could ever stop searching for him, then at that point I would feel like I’ve failed as a mother,” she said. “That isn’t an option. We will keep searching.”

An Edmonton-bound plane from Penticton went missing in November and was just found in the exact area rescue crews were searching. A BC ambulance helicopter was flying by the area when they spotted the plane wreckage.

“How many times have we gone over an area and might have missed something,” she said. “You only really need one person to find your loved one.”

Heather said they speak with RCMP every time they visit Sun Peaks, but wants there to be a system in place to help families who have a loved one go missing.

"Really the families are on their own," she said. "It boggles my mind... there isn't a constant support system."

She says no family should ever have to go through even a week of what they've dealt with for the past seven months.

A search group is being organized for the Sun Peaks Resort area on Oct. 12 and 13, and anyone who would like to volunteer their time can find more information at this link.

“I just need someone, one person, to find him, it could be someone wandering the area, that is snowmobiling… I just need one person.”

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