Gerald Kearney has been missing for 12 days and friends are distressed. The retired lawyer, also known as Smiley, was last seen at Ridge Camp at the Fairy Creek blockades on Wednesday, October 13th.
Kearney had travelled to Fairy Creek with Naomi Hunter, leader of the Saskatchewan Green Party, who was visiting. He chose to stay a few more days after she and another friend departed. She says he had been living on his sailboat on the West Coast for about six months.
“He is the happiest, nicest guy,” Hunter said. “He has a big heart, and has always been involved in social justice and environmental movements. He was living his dream … and now he’s gone missing.” She said that he is divorced and has two daughters, and had been very involved with anti-poverty activism in Ontario before moving to BC.
After a six-day stay at two different camps in the area, Kearney left Ridge Camp around 10 a.m. on October 13, planning to hike down the trail to Heli Camp. The hike takes about two hours. It is considered a difficult hike, but is relatively well marked with flagging tape, with ropes to assist hikers in the steepest areas. He told fellow campers he needed to get back home to look after his cat (which is now being cared for by friends).
One person said they saw Kearney at Pacific Marine Highway later that afternoon. However, he was not seen at Heli Camp along the way, where he was expected to retrieve the big hiking pack he had previously left there, along with his cell phone. He was also not seen on the trail, nor on the road down the mountain.
For several reasons, it was not realized for days that Kearney was missing. He had not given a definite time he planned to return home. There is usually no cell service on the mountain, and it was a chaotic time at Fairy Creek, with RCMP raiding Heli and other camps, and things changing rapidly.
Cowichan Search and Rescue were called out on Thursday, Oct. 21, but after a day and a half of searching were unable to find Kearney. They searched everywhere they safely could, but much of the mountain is treacherous terrain, especially in wet weather. Drones were reportedly used to search a larger area.
Kearney is 61 years old and has a heart condition. He is 5 feet, 4 inches in height and weighs about 210 pounds. He has shoulder-length grey hair. He was wearing a red hooded sweatshirt over a purple sweater, and may have been wearing a dark raincoat.
Kearney was travelling on foot. He may have been hitchhiking. If you drove the Pacific Marine highway since the evening of Wednesday, Oct 13th, please take a moment to recall whether you saw anything unusual. Sometimes even the smallest detail can be important.
Corporal Holmes at Sooke RCMP is now overseeing the case. If you have any information, please call him at: 250-642-5241 . (File no. 20214792)
A friend of Kearney’s from Ontario is arriving today in Victoria to help search for him.
People are always advised to follow basic safety rules any time they are hiking:
1) Leave a trip plan
2) Train and know your limits
3) Bring the 10 essentials: light, whistle, fire starter, warm clothes, knife, thermal shelter like a mylar blanket, food and water, rudimentary first aid kit, compass, cell phone.
Corporal Holmes, Sooke RCMP: 250-642-5241
Naomi Hunter: 306-561-8880