Search resumes in Shuswap for missing women

Wings of Mercy drones have begun looking, ground search in plans for May.

Time might heal some wounds, but not this one. 

“In the back of our minds, sometimes we think, maybe she’s held captive. We won’t know until we get closure. When will we get closure? Maybe never,” says John Simpson.

As April comes around, so does the anniversary of the disappearance of Ashley Simpson, John and Cindy’s daughter. On April 27, 2016, Ashley, then 32, disappeared from where she was living on Yankee Flats Road, southwest of Salmon Arm. The same day, all her online communication stopped.

Police believe she’s dead, John says, and the life insurance company has paid out a claim.

Once again this spring, as the snow disappears, the search for Ashley and for closure will resume.

“What we’re looking for is a pile of bones somewhere…” he says. “Anytime you go out there, it’s more wear and tear on your soul. Every time you go out, you come back empty-handed.”

Read more: Driver’s licence of missing Ashley Simpson found in northern B.C.

Read more: Time to stem the tide of missing women

Read more: Mother of missing Shuswap woman holds out hope she’ll be found

Read more: Missing woman smart, courageous, lovable

John expresses gratitude for the Wings of Mercy drone group and others, as his focus is having more people searching. Wings of Mercy members search for missing people all over North America, including the women in the Shuswap. He’d like hikers to keep an eye out, as well.

“It makes me sort of proud to know how much has been done so far, how much will be done.”

Cindy also consults psychics to help find Ashley’s remains. So far water seems to figure prominently.

On this particular day, John, speaking from his home in Ontario, puts off the interview for a few hours as it’s one of those days when the tears won’t stop.

Last year he went into bankruptcy.

“It was too much on me mentally and on my health,” he says of Ashley’s disappearance.

“As a parent, until it happens to you, you can’t really fathom what it’s like. The longer you have to wait to get closure, it slowly eats away at you.”

John explains that any life savings there were have been spent on searching, coming to B.C. to find her. Last year WestJet was very kind and provided them with flights and accommodations, he says.

“Us parents with missing children, I imagine any parent would do the same and spend all their savings to try and find their child.”

He wishes the government would help out, both with its high-tech equipment and with funds. He was cut off unemployment insurance, he says, because he went out-of-province to search.

As well as Ashley, Caitlin Potts, Deanna Wertz and Nicole Bell have gone missing from the North Okanagan-Shuswap. The remains of Traci Genereaux, who was also missing, were found in October 2017 on a farm in Silver Creek, not far from Yankee Flats Road. No arrests have been made or charges laid in her death.

Read more: Police canvass area regarding missing woman

Read more: Sacred fire in Shuswap to help illuminate darkness surrounding missing women

Read more: Murdered and missing women honoured at Stolen Sisters Memorial March in B.C.

Read more: Walking for missing women

John says he would like to find the other women missing as well. Part of what keeps him going is the hope that the efforts being put in will help other people who search now or in the future for their children.

Jane Aubertin, Nicole Bell’s mom, expresses a similar sentiment. Nicole, then 31, was last seen on Sept. 2, 2017 in Sicamous. Jane is working with the Simpson family.

She hopes to come to the Shuswap after the May long weekend to start a ground search. Using all-terrain vehicles is one of her hopes, and she would love to get volunteer drivers.

“We don’t have a pinpointed area yet; we have to see what the drones come up with.”

If anyone would like to help once they’ve set a date, she suggests they PM (personal message) her on her Facebook page, ‘Jane Aubertin.’

She says other goals include fundraising for searching and, one that’s particularly important to all the families of the missing women, keeping the women in the public eye so they aren’t forgotten.

“It’s still frustrating, not getting any answers, not knowing anything. Somebody has to know something as to what happened to these women, not just to my daughter, but to the rest of them. That’s the other thing, we’re not just looking for Nicole, we’re looking for all of them.

“Our hopes are that she is still alive and she is still out there somewhere. It’s just a matter of finding her. It’s always in the back of your minds that it’s a recovery, not a rescue,” Jane adds. “It always is that.”


@SalmonArm
marthawickett@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Jane and Dennis Aubertin, Nicole Bell’s mother and step-father, stand with Jody Leon, founder of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Drone Search Team, with a poster of four women missing from the North Okanagan-Shuswap, Ashley Simpson, Caitlin Potts, Nicole Bell and Deanna Wertz. (Facebook photo)

Ashley Simpson

Just Posted

City of Enderby issues flood caution reminder

Rain in Sunday weather forecast could increase water levels and flow

Rain in Sunday forecast for Okanagan-Shuswap

Environment Canada calling for 15-20 millimetres in regions

Salmon Arm man reported missing by RCMP has been found unharmed

Ken Derkach apologizes for having caused anyone concern

Preparations for flooding in the Shuswap accelerate

A sandbagging machine and a crew to run it have been set up in Silver Creek.

Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Okanagan, Shuswap

Environment Canada is forecasting strong wind gusts, large hail and heavy downpours in parts of the Interior

VIDEO: Injured bald eagle rescued in B.C. First Nations community

Bird suspected injured in fight, whisked off to Coquitlam rehab

Toronto Raptors’ Ujiri says conversations about racism can no longer be avoided

Thousands have protested Floyd’s death and repeated police killings of black men across the United States

‘I’m afraid’: Witnesses of wolf attack on senior near Prince Rupert worried about safety

Frank Russ shows where the unprovoked wolf attacked his father

Protesters prepare to rally against racism in front of Vancouver Art Gallery

Rally is in response to the deaths of black Americans and a Toronto woman

PHOTOS: Okanagan residents capture epic lightning show

A look at some of the best shots of the storm on May 30

Big White Ski Resort to offer rebate for pass holders after early closure

Next year’s pass will include a 20 per cent rebate

‘No tick is a good tick’: Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation

The foundation’s president said all ticks that attach to humans and pets can carry various diseases

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Most Read