Efforts by search and rescue teams to locate a missing former Castlegar resident were called off on Saturday evening.
Neva Evdokimoff, 48, was reported missing by her family on Wednesday, May 25. RCMP and search and rescue teams immediately began a search for her, which intensified on Saturday when teams from across the region were called in to help locate her.
Rossland Search and Rescue (RSAR) led the search, with teams from South Columbia, Castlegar and Grand Forks joining in the initial effort. On Saturday, teams from Arrow Lakes, Creston, Cranbrook, Kimberley and Nelson joined Rossland, South Columbia and Castlegar to conduct a thorough search of Gyro Park, surrounding trails and urban areas, and the Columbia River. The river was searched from Genelle to Roosevelt Lake in Washington.
A number of abandoned clothing items were found during the search, but none ended up belonging to Evdokimoff. An open gate was also thought to be a possible clue.
“We found a gate open when we did the urban search of Sunningdale and one sent of prints going out it,” explained Dave Braithwaite, RSAR search manager. “We put trackers on it, they followed it and it didn’t lead to anything.”
Following the day’s search, search and rescue teams were called off, though RCMP continue to search the river.
Search and rescue teams had originally thought that they might call off the search following Friday’s efforts, which included a search of the same areas and a search by helicopter, but were asked by the RCMP to make one final sweep.
Evdokimoff grew up in Castlegar, but know lives in Kelowna. She was visiting her family in Shore Acres and left to drive home on the morning of Tuesday, May 24, but never made it. Her family was unable to reach her by cell phone and reported her missing the following day.
Cell phone activity indicated Evdokimoff had been in the Trail area and the RCMP located her vehicle in the Gyro Park parking lot. Video from a camera on the washroom building showed her parking her vehicle at approximately 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, three hours after she left her family.
“They caught her leaving [on camera]. She’d been four or five times back to her car and she left with a pack on,” said Braithwaite.
He also confirmed that a witness likely saw Evdokimoff in her car the morning of her disappearance. “A witness came forward saying that they saw wet footprints on the trail between Sunningdale and here at Gyro, and they’d come up the stairs and walked this way, [toward the parking lot,] and when they got here they saw the wet tracks and someone sitting in the car,” said Braithwaite. Officials believe the witness spotted her before she left her car for the final time.
She was last seen headed toward the beach area at Gyro Park wearing black sweat pants, black hoodie with white stripes and a ball cap. She is a Caucasian female, 5’4”, 120 lbs with long blond hair.
Police are asking anyone who may have seen her or her vehicle to contact them immediately as any small clue will aid in the search. You can call the Trail RCMP at 250-364-2566.