Thursday, December 28, 2006

Search in the backwoods of Squamish results in tragic news for a former Rupert family

It was the worst possible outcome that anyone would have wanted to hear. A former Prince Rupert resident was found dead on a backwoods road, after having gone missing since last Wednesday.

27 year old Chris Batko, was discovered by searchers on December 27, six days after he had left home to do some off roading in his Toyota 4 x 4. He had been the subject of an intensive search in the area between Squamish and Whistler. Search and rescue teams from Squamish, Lions Bay and Whistler took part in the operation that included two helicopters and snowmobiles

Both News 1130 and CKNW News report that the RCMP do not classify the death as suspicious. Squamish RCMP Sergeant Kevin Bracewell says foul play is not suspected, but the cause of death is not known, "I can tell you there's no suspicious circumstances that would indicate anything of a criminal nature, however, we do have a coroner's investigation going on as to the cause of death."

The family who once lived in the Prince Rupert area had moved to Vancouver Island a number of years ago. While living in Rupert they made many friends and many contributions to the fabric of the town, through volunteer work with their church and other community activities.

Those that knew them while living in Rupert, will be wishing them peace and condolences at this most sad news. In a release to News 1130, the family asked to be allowed to grieve in private.

Update: Daily News front page story of December 27, 2006

Chris Batko had been missing for six days
Canadian Press wire copy
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Page one


The body of a Squamish man who grew up in Prince Rupert and who had been missing for six days was found Tuesday on a remote road.

A helicopter search had been launched on Christmas Day after Chris Batko, 27, failed to return home after going off roading in the backcountry last Wednesday.

Family friend Colleen Myers said family and friends began to worry after Batko’s girlfriend said she had not heard from him.

“On Wednesday, there was alarm when he didn’t call his girlfriend back,” said Myers.

“He was deeply in love with his girlfriend,” she added.

Batko’s disappearance was reported to Squamish RCMP immediately, but a helicopter wasn’t called in for a search until Monday.

Myers said they were hoping that instead of backcountry driving, Batko had just driven out of the Squamish area to see friends.

“We wouldn’t think twice about him going off to see his friends,’ she said.

But when he did not show up for Christmas dinner at his mother’s residence in Nanaimo, they knew something was wrong.

Friends and family had planned to head out and search further into the backcountry on Tuesday.

His mother Eva also traveled to Squamish Tuesday only to be informed of the grim news.

Jim Lang, the emergency program co-coordinator for the District of Squamish said 18 search and rescue members had been out looking for Batko.

Lang said a searcher was able to drive into the remote area and located the vehicle.

“He was found dead in his vehicle,” said Lang.

RCMP have yet to release a cause of death.

“We don’t suspect foul play,” said Squamish RCMP Corp. Jeff Karran.

“The matter is still under investigation as to how Mr. Batko met his final end.”

Batko, who grew up in Prince Rupert, was planning for a career as a hydro lineman. He had only moved to Squamish two months ago and was an avid mountain biker.

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