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Search resumes for plane

Family members of a young couple missing in southeastern British Columbia for nearly two years hope a renewed search will bring some closure.

Kamloops pilot Alex Simons and his girlfriend Sydney Robillard, of Lethbridge, Alta., haven't been seen since June 8, 2017, when Simons took off from Cranbrook on the final leg of a flight to Kamloops from Lethbridge.

The search for the pair, both in their 20s, and their Piper Warrior has covered nearly 40,000 square kilometres of rugged terrain, mostly in the areas of St. Mary Valley or Redding Creek, northwest of Cranbrook.

But a relative of Simons, Natalie Lindgren, says new information from a local pilot has shifted attention to the area of Lost Dog Valley, north of Kimberley.

Lindgren is organizing a three-day search of that region, set to begin May 8.

Weather near Cranbrook was deteriorating as Simons and Robillard took off at around 3 p.m., and Lindgren says the pilot remembers seeing a Piper Warrior fly over his house at about 3:15, in a line that would have put the plane close to the Lost Dog Valley area.

"It was confirmed with Cranbrook flight services that there was not another Piper Warrior out at that time," says Lindgren.

She's seeking volunteers for the search, which she says will focus on a lower elevation area of Lost Dog Valley that was not initially checked due to poor weather conditions.

"It's a very dangerous environment," says Lindgren.

"We are looking for people with search and rescue experience, with drones that are able to capture pictures, and also planes. Any civil aircraft that can go out and fly, that's fantastic."

The weather, aircraft performance and experience of the young pilot all make the valley a likely choice as Simons tried to thread his way through worsening conditions to reach Kamloops, says Lindgren.

"That really leads us to believe that that's a high-probability area," she says. 



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