The search for a missing cowboy near Merritt has been suspended, but the investigation into Ben Tyner’s disappearance will continue.
After seven days of combing the Nicola Valley, Merritt Mounties requested support from the RCMP Southeast District Major Crime Unit (SED MCU) in the investigation of the 32-year-old manager of the Nicola Ranch.
“While the official search was suspended on Sunday (Feb. 3) after seven days of searching, the investigation is not over,” Merritt RCMP Staff. Sgt. Lorne Wood said. “We are thankful to have the expertise and resources available from the SED MCU to assist us as the investigation transitions from a short term search effort.”
Tyner was reported missing to Merritt RCMP on Jan. 28, after a local hunter found his riderless horse in the backcountry.
Following his disappearance, more than a dozen search and rescue teams, RCMP, air services, police dogs, drones and volunteers on foot in vehicles, on snowmobiles, on horseback, in helicopters, horseback riders, helicopters scoured the region, but there’s still no sign of the rancher.
The experience has been “heartbreaking” for the entire family, said Jared Dorn, Tyner’s cousin-in-law, who said the family is still formulating plans on how to proceed.
“There are a lot of things that do not make sense about the entire situation, but I am not in the position to characterize it as suspicious,” Dorn said. “I believe that keeping Ben and his situation in peoples’ hearts and minds is the best chance we have of finding him.”
Dorn created a GoFundMe page to aid in the search for Tyner, which had raised $24,00 as of Friday, Feb. 8, $4,000 more than the $20,000 goal.
He said the family plans to use the funds to help volunteer organizations in the search for Tyner, as well as to pay for missing person billboards and posters.
“Our next step with the Tyner situation is just to re-examine where we have been, where we weren’t, where the other possibilities may be and come up with a new action plan,” said Sgt. Norm Flemming “I suppose we can always hold out a measure of hope that he is injured, but alive — I’d say the odds of that become a little longer every day.”
Considering the deep freeze settling in over the Nicola Valley and the length of time Tyner has been missing, Flemming said he has his concerns.
“My hope — for the sake of the family, his friends and everybody — is that in the next very short while, we find where he is, what happened to him,” he said. “There is nothing worse than spending the rest of your life wondering what happened.”
RCMP advise that residents may see an increase in police presence throughout Merritt and surrounding area in support of the ongoing investigation.
Anyone who has information about Tyner’s disappearance is asked to contact the Merritt RCMP at 250-378-4262 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.