Update: Family of missing pilot, passenger travel to Revelstoke to keep search effort going

Family of pilot Dominic Neron, 28, and his passenger, girlfriend Ashley Bourgeault, 31, travelled to Revelstoke on Saturday to raise awareness of the search for the pair who went missing Nov. 25 while flying in a small aircraft from Penticton to Edmonton.

November, 2017: Members of the families of Dominic Neron and Ashley Bourgeault join friends and Revelstoke residents after arriving here to keep the search for the missing pair going. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer

Update, posted Dec. 3

Relatives and friends of missing Edmonton couple Dominic Neron, 28, and his passenger, girlfriend Ashley Bourgeault, 31, whose plane went missing near Revelstoke on Nov. 25, once again gathered at Emo’s Restaurant on Sunday night to review the results of the day and plan for the search tomorrow.

Dominic’s sister, Tammy Neron, said that the reception from the community had been great. She said as she walked around town, everyone recognized her, and that some people had printed and put up posters independently of the family effort. They’ve had skiers and snowmobilers volunteer to search in snowmobile and backcountry skiing areas. Others have been up logging roads to look for signs of the missing plane.

The family has been in contact with an Alberta-based helicopter company that is going to donate a helicopter to continue the search.

The family received word that the official air search by JRCC will come to an end at sunset on Monday, Dec. 4.

Neron said they hope that local search and rescue can get involved after that point. On the weekend, the family to get through to Revelstoke RCMP, but was unable to make contact because their office was closed for the weekend. They hope local police can help coordinate the search.

Neron said they’re asking for people with credentials and experience in the backcountry to volunteer time, hopefully on a coordinated search starting Monday. “Anyone with search and rescue skills is an asset to this,” she said.

The family is also seeking help with donations, and are seeking to set up an official fund to help with the costs of the search.

Original story posted Dec. 2

As of Saturday afternoon, it’s been a week since a small aircraft headed to Edmonton from Penticton on Nov. 25 went missing in what authorities believe is the Revelstoke area.

Video: Sister Tammy Neron speaks with Aaron Orlando from revelstokemountaineer.com about the ongoing search

On Saturday, family members of the pilot, Dominic Neron, 28, and his passenger, girlfriend Ashley Bourgeault, 31, travelled from Edmonton to Revelstoke to keep the search for their missing family members going.

Family, friends and Revelstoke members gather soon after arriving in Revelstoke on Saturday. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer

The families have received word from Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre (JRCC), the Victoria, B.C.-based search organization that the search will continue tomorrow, and possibly on Monday, but after that point it will be called off and handed to the RCMP as a missing persons file.

After the long drive, family members gathered at Emo’s Restaurant, where they met with community members to drum up awareness of the search and to seek help.

Tammy Neron, sister of missing pilot Dominic Neron. Tammy lives and works in Victoria but travelled home to Edmonton after her brother’s plane went missing last week. She travelled with members of the Bourgeault and Neron families on Saturday, Dec. 2.  Photo/Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer

Tammy Neron, Dominic’s sister, said the family welcomes any assistance in their search. “If it was your brother, father or sister, you would do anything,” she said. “It’s not over. You cannot just bring this to an end.”

Several community members and Dominic Neron’s friends from the Okanagan gathered to raise awareness.

They families from Edmonton brought maps provided by JRCC that showed the flight paths that search helicopters have flown in their efforts.

The search has focused on an area surrounding the Trans-Canada Highway between Revelstoke and Rogers Pass. The helicopter flight paths travel over the highway valley and into the many valleys that branch off of it.

The families provided many maps, documents and images of the search effort, including this one said to depict flight paths as yellow lines. There were other maps with similar depictions. We don’t have exact details of this photo of one of the many maps. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer

Searchers have been focusing on two key pieces of information. The first is flight data transmitted back to air traffic authorities. The plane came to the Revelstoke from the Penticton direction, then changed direction a couple times right over Revelstoke. That’s where the last transmission ended. Family members have heard from authorities that this could be because the aircraft dropped to a lower elevation where it could not be detected by the monitoring equipment.

A CH-149 Cormorant helicopter departs from Revelstoke to search on Friday afternoon. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer

The second key piece of information is two ‘pings’ from Dominic’s cell phone logged by cell phone towers midway between Revelstoke and Rogers Pass last Saturday night at around 10:30 p.m. The logs of the aerial search paths show the search helicopters focusing their search in this area.

The searches have been ongoing for a week now, including two CC-115 Buffalo aircraft and a CH-149 Cormorant helicopter. The search has been hindered on several days by bad weather and poor visibility.

The pair were travelling in this airplane when they went missing. One thing the family asks is for Revelstoke community members to think if they can recall seeing a red/burgundy plane on the afternoon of the 25th, probably within the hour after it left Penticton at 2:30 p.m. Family said other sightings had been ruled out because of the colour of the plane; at this point, they just hope someone may have useful information.  Photo: submitted

Parks Canada staff attended met with the family. In a very brief chat with me, a Parks Canada spokesperson emphasized safety.

One thing that came up in general discussion in the room was concerns expressed by aviators about social media chatter about using drones to search. They stressed no drones: they can shut down helicopter searches.

Neron hopes the search can continue on the ground, and are working to see if local search and rescue can get involved.

In town, the family members are asking for any assistance people can offer, such as for help postering, or other in-town logistics. The Sutton Place Hotel has provided them free lodging, but if they stay for longer, they may need assistance with a place to stay.

“I truly believe that when people come together, we can [achieve] this,” Tammy Neron said.

Neron can be reached by email at tammy_neron@hotmail.com and telephone number 1-708-405-7649.

Update: Sunday, Dec. 3

The weather has improved dramatically on Sunday. The skies were much clearer in the Revelstoke area, with some sunshine. Pictured below, a Cormorant search helicopter can be seen flying between Mt. Macpherson and Revelstoke. The helicopter could be seen searching near Boulder Mountain around noon.

A Cormorant helicopter searches near Revelstoke on Sunday, Dec. 3. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer
Aaron Orlando
Aaron Orlando is the Creative Director of revelstokemountaineer.com and Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine. He's worked in Revelstoke as a journalist and editor for the past 12 years. If you have tips on Revelstoke news, events, outdoor life, community or anything else, contact Aaron at aaron@revelstokemountaineer.com or call/text Aaron at 250-814-8710.