One year since he vanished

Scott and Heather Shtuka started the long trek to Sun Peaks Resort from Beaumont, Alberta on Thursday. It’s a familiar drive they have made dozens of times this past year.

The last year has been the hardest their family has ever had; Sunday marks one year since their 20-year-old son Ryan Shtuka vanished without a trace.

“February 17 will be the most traumatic and tragic thing that has happened to us,” said Heather.

The family has not stopped searching for Ryan and Sun Peaks Resort has become like a second home to the Shtukas.

Ryan was last seen leaving a house party on Burfield Drive early in the morning on Feb. 17. His residence was just a short one kilometre away but he vanished, never to be seen again.

“We don’t know what direction Ryan went, we don’t know if he went with anybody or what happened after that party,” said Heather.

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

“Ryan was happy there, he loved it,” she said. “He landed his first backflip there, he was on the hill and boarded for 36 days straight, the very last day he enjoyed those slopes was February 16.”

On the anniversary of him going missing, his parents want to treasure and preserve Ryan's legacy.

Friday morning they had, for the first time, a joint press conference with Kamloops RCMP asking people to keep searching and pleading with anyone who has information to come forward.

“I am sure Ryan would describe us in a lot of ways but he came into two pretty stubborn people,” said Heather. “We’ll never give up searching, we will never give up looking for him.”

Friends of Ryan’s, family friends, and strangers who have become like family will all convene at Sun Peak Resort this weekend to create new memories together.

“We don’t always want to associate it with him going missing. We wanted to have some memories of going up there and remembering and honouring Ryan,” she said.

Heather plans to have her very first snowboard lesson, which is something Ryan loved to do.

“I’ve had it on my bucket list so I am going to try to knock it off,” she said with a chuckle.

At the end of the day on Saturday, everyone will take the last run down the mountain on Five Mile in memory of Ryan. A candlelight vigil will start at 5:40 p.m. on Sunday at the top of the village and is open to the public to attend.

And while it is hard to return to Sun Peaks Resort, Heather says they will continue to come back here and do whatever they can to find their son.

“We won’t be giving up on Ryan,” she said.

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