UPDATED: Search and rescue suspends search for missing lake man

Rodney MacKinnon - courtesy RCMP
Rodney MacKinnon
— image credit: courtesy RCMP

Cowichan Search and Rescue has suspended its search for a Lake Cowichan man missing since Thursday, confirmed a member of the rescue team.

Search crews have been scouring the woods near Lake Cowichan in an attempt to locate Rodney MacKinnon, a 35-year-old area resident.

Efforts have been concentrated in an area where family found MacKinnon's pick-up truck Sunday, after becoming concerned for his whereabouts.

The truck was found in the Fairservice network of logging roads that can be accessed by a gate near the Lakeview campground between Lake Cowichan and Mesachie Lake.

"Our task was suspended for the time being as of yesterday evening based on talks with the local RCMP," said Cowichan SAR member Mitch Wright Wednesday.

RCMP are currently following up on tips they've received, indicated Wright.

He said SAR members covered a 800-metre grid of tough terrain on the soggy Sunday and Monday as well as Tuesday.

"We remain a phone call away to reactivate the search," said Wright. "It may end up being in a different area, or expanding from the area we already covered."

Family friend Saldana Bauman Skramstad, the wife of the missing man's cousin Tim Skramstad, said MacKinnon was an experienced outdoorsman and often likes to camp.

"What we do know now is his truck was out of gas, so he would have walked out," Bauman Skramstad said Tuesday. "He did have blankets and a pillow."

The situation does concern them as he's never left for more than a couple days, and his jacket and shoes were also left in the truck.

Bauman Skramstad said Cowichan SAR were being helped by members from Juan de Fuca to Victoria. Retired SAR members, even as far as from Port Alberni, joined the search party, as well as members of the Cowichan ATV club and many family members and local volunteers.

"Now today they’re branching out further," she said of searchers helping on Tuesday. "They're checking out all the logging roads, the ditchlines and we're really hoping people will help look for him in other places, even in town."

Bauman Skramstad said there's a possibility MacKinnon might just be trying to clear his head.

"Rodney is a loving caring man who loves and is loved by his family," a family statement emailed to the News Leader Pictorial stated. "We are extremely thankful as a family for the extreme consideration, empathy and hard work of the search and rescue teams.

"We'd also like to thank the community and RCMP for being so understanding and helpful. At this point we are still very hopeful."

MacKinnon was last seen at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday.

He is described as a Caucasian male, about 6'3', weighing 209 pounds with blue eyes and brown hair.

Anyone with information is urged to contact their local police, or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

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