Public search for missing man unsuccessful

Search efforts Thursday afternoon for a Fort St. John musician missing in Quesnel didn’t turn up the results organizers were hoping to achieve.

On Facebook, members of the Ground Search For Heath Onstine page say they are still in search of Onstine, believed to have gone missing near the Quesnel River last Sunday.

Organizers say 89 searchers came out for a community-led search effort, one that include a plane and river boat loaded with volunteers.

“Unfortunately we did not have the results that we wanted,” Kathy Canuel, one of the group’s organizers, reported yesterday.

“We do however have an amazing community and are blessed with generosity, kindness, humour, talent and love.”

Canuel, who has not returned a call for comment, said a second search will happen again soon.

Thursday’s search was focused around the Baston Road and surrounding area in Quesnel.

Quesnel RCMP say they were notified Sun., June 14 about a possible car accident on Baston Road, which crosses the Quesnel river.

RCMP said tire marks were found leaving road at the scene, and investigators found minor vehicle debris, including a license plate, among the bushes that lead down to the river.

Police say they have not been able to reach the registered owner of the license plate, and have not confirmed they are searching for Onstine, despite public Facebook reports.

RCMP have been searching the area for the last several days, including aerial scans of the river. Both the Underwater Recovery Team and Quesnel Search and Rescue have been called on to assist with RCMP efforts, however, high and fast moving river flows have made underwater search efforts too dangerous to undertake.

RCMP say they continue to monitor water levels and speeds to determine when a search can begin.

Originally from Terrace, Onstine was a popular musician in Fort St. John, playing with several bands including C.C. Brooks and the Dog and Pony Show, and was slated to play with the Mat Savard Band at the upcoming CanolaFest in July, among a host of others.

Fort St. John resident Carmen Stanley took to Facebook to thank organizers for their search efforts.

“So many of Heath’s friends in Fort St. John feel so helpless!” she wrote.

“We are beside ourselves with grief and worry. Thank you so so much. We hold onto hope.”

Joey Onley said he wished he could join the search.

“Wish we could be there…we’re playing in Alberta…very heartbroken, unbelievable,” wrote Onley.

“Sending our love home to you all. Still hoping Heath will join us on stage again someday.”

Anyone who may have seen a car enter the Quesnel River on June 14 is asked to call Quesnel RCMP at 250-992-9211.

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