Family pleading for help

Alanna Kelly

The family of a missing couple who took off in a plane from Penticton are pleading for help from the public in searching for their single-engine Mooney aircraft.

Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Victoria has decided to suspend their exhaustive search as of 3:30 p.m. on Monday and will be transferring the case to the RCMP.

“Over the last 9 days, Royal Canadian Air Force and Parks Canada aircraft have flown approximately 120 hours in extremely challenging weather and conditions, covering more than 22,000 square kilometres in the areas surrounding the last known location, and likely flight path, of the missing plane,” said the JRCC in a statement.

Dominic Neron, 28, and his girlfriend Ashley Bourgeault, 31, left from Penticton Regional Airport at 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 25 and were expected to land in Edmonton, but never arrived.

The two were visiting Bourgeault's cousin for lunch in Penticton and were expected to return home to Edmonton. Neron's cellphone last pinged in the Revelstoke area and search and rescue crews were scouring the area 18km north of Revelstoke. 

Parks Canada and CASARA, and the information provided by Telus, Rogers, NavCanada and NORAD, have all been involved in the extensive search.

Samantha McClellan last spoke to her sister the day she went missing when they were at the Penticton airport and Bourgeault said weather conditions were difficult to fly in.

“We will be working with local RCMP and their search crews and we are really asking for anybody that has knowledge of that area, that has time and can come help us volunteer,” she said.

"We are asking snowmobilers, cross country skiers, snowshoers, trackers," she said. “We are pleading that anyone that can search and is knowledgeable of the area donate their time, the more bodies we have out there looking the better."

McClellan has been watching Bourgeault's three children aged nine, five and four years old since she went missing and said they are doing everything they can to stay positive.

The family is also reaching out to anyone who may have been on Highway 1 between 3 and 6 p.m. on Nov. 25 and saw the white and burgundy plane. 

McClellan added that her sister used Snap Chat, an image messaging mobile application, when she was in the air on Saturday and they are hoping to gain more information about where it was sent from.

Anyone who can volunteer their time to assist in the search is being asked to contact Kate Sinclair at 780-951-3937.

"Our thoughts are with the families and loved ones during this extremely difficult time," said the JRCC in a statement.

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