The sister of a missing Edmonton mother of three, who hasn’t been seen since the aircraft her boyfriend was piloting vanished near Revelstoke on Saturday, is optimistic the search efforts will be a success.
Samantha McClellan told Global News on Wednesday that her sister, Ashley Bourgeault, 31, and Bourgeault’s boyfriend, Dominic Neron, 28, of Spruce Grove, Alta., are the only two occupants of the small plane.
Neron purchased the 1963 Mooney M20D aircraft in September and officials said he obtained his pilot’s licence two years ago.
Neron is a journeyman electrician who is set to celebrate his 29th birthday next month.
PHOTOS: Ashley Bourgeault, her sister Samantha McClellan and Dominic Neron:
Bourgeault just obtained a job as an education assistant with Edmonton Public Schools. The couple have been dating for 14 months and often went flying together.
Neron and Bourgeault stopped in Penticton to visit Bourgeault’s family members and do some Christmas shopping on Saturday.
McClellan offered to watch Bourgault’s three children aged nine, five and four years old.
Neron and Bourgeault left Penticton Regional Airport at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday en route home to Edmonton, but never arrived. Their plane was reported overdue at 10:40 p.m.
“She sent me a picture, she said the weather wasn’t agreeing on the way down and they felt if it was a risk on their way back that they would stop in Golden,” McClellan said.
McClellan said the hardest thing is the helpless feeling of waiting for news of the search efforts.
“She’s my best friend, she’s my soul mate,” McClellan said. “I know in my heart that my sister is alive, it’s just a matter of them being found.”
Katelyn Moores with the Victoria Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre said a cormorant helicopter, buffalo aircraft, and a Parks Canada helicopter are dispatched to aid in the search efforts today.
Moores said the area was refined on Tuesday based on more complete information from satellite radar and a cellphone tower that picked up a signal from Neron’s phone at about the same time the plane dropped off the radar on Saturday.
The rescuers are focusing on an area approximately 18 kilometres north of Revelstoke.
Moores said weather continues to be a concern as snow has blanketed the southern interior mountain and there is a low cloud ceiling reducing visibility.
“Freshly fallen snow can cover up signs of the aircraft that could be of assistance,” she said.
McClellan said she’s remaining positive by reading inspiring stories of survival in the wilderness.
“People can survive out there for a long time and people persevere to get home to their families and their loved ones.”
McClellan is urging residents in the Revelstoke area to remain on the lookout.
“We just really want the word out in Revelstoke if people could print pictures, put their faces up in store windows, we really want everybody, backcountry enthusiasts to be on the lookout.”
McClellan said she’s also grateful for the nation-wide support her family has received during this difficult time.
“There has been so much outreach from the community, in Edmonton, in B.C., all over Canada, we are just so truly garetful for everybody’s support and prayers.”
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