Ben Tyner’s parents and his younger brother Jack have flown to Merritt to join dozens of people now searching for the missing cowboy.
Thirty-two-year-old Tyner is the manager at Nicola Ranch, where he started working about three months ago. However, a search was launched on Monday, when loggers discovered his riderless horse. The animal was unharmed, but there was no sign of the career cowboy.
Searchers are now attempting to get a better sense of where Tyner was riding and they’ve made a plea for information.
“There is still some question as to how he got up here and whether someone drove him up with a truck and trailer,” said Merritt RCMP spokesperson Const. Tracey Dunsmore. “We haven’t located that person yet so we are looking for that information.”
“He’s a rancher, so we believe he was dressed for the weather, probably had proper gear, but there’s no indication that he took anything to spend the night,” Dunsmore added.
Also assisting with the search are members of the Lower Nicola Indian Band. “Ben is new to the community and we’re concerned,” Leonie Antoine with the band said.
Ben’s brother Jack has posted a message on his Facebook page asking for prayers.
“My big brother and my family are in desperate need of prayers!!!!!” he wrote Tuesday. “He is big, strong and tough and we are all staying optimistic. Just please pray that we find him! So grateful to all the search and rescue, volunteers, and cowboys looking. We’re coming for you big brother. I love you!!!!”
WATCH: Missing Merritt cowboy, Ben Tyner, spoke to Global News in January after a church in the area was hit by arson. Here is a portion of that interview with Tyner.
Notably, Global News talked to Tyner after the recent arsonist church fires in Merritt on Friday, Jan. 11.
The Crossroads Community Church on Voght Street suffered some damage, but the 143-year-old Murray United Church north of Merritt was completely destroyed, reduced to a pile of ashes.
“Well, it’s tragic, really,” Tyner told Global News on a cool, overcast day with snow partially covering the ground, with puffs of smoke rising from the burned-out remains of the church in the background.
“The church has been a landmark here for well over 100 years … it’s been part of the community,” continued Tyner. “I know I’m not from here, I didn’t grow up around it, but I know a lot of people that did. This morning, it’s been very upsetting. It’s definitely a tragic loss.
“It was a historic point for this area; it was one of the oldest churches in B.C., to my understanding. Just a senseless act and a very tragic and irreplaceable loss.”
With overnight temperatures as low as -18 C in recent days, search crews are increasingly anxious about locating Tyner.
— with files from Doyle Potenteau