NORTH OKANAGAN - The family of Deanna Wertz is desperate for answers after the North Okanagan woman disappeared two weeks ago.
Her sister Dawn Kyle spoke to her the day before she went missing and is in agony not knowing what happened.
“She was fine, she was great, she was happy,” Kyle says of their last phone conversation. “We were talking about seeing each other soon.”
According to family, Deanna’s husband was the last person who saw her, on July 19 as he was leaving town for work. Her other sister, Alanna Wertz, says family members talked to her the same day by phone.
“She was talking about going for a hike up the mountain but she just disappeared,” Alanna says.
Deanna is an avid hiker and has trekked the backcountry around her home on Yankee Flats Road for more than 15 years. It’s not uncommon for her to be gone all day, but two weeks is very worriesome, Alanna says.
Wertz is the third woman reported missing in the North Okanagan over the past several months and the second to go missing from Yankee Flats Road near Enderby. The others are Caitlin Potts and Ashley Simpson. Police have not said the cases of the three women are connected.
Police and Shuswap Search and Rescue have launched an extensive search for Deanna including members searching by foot, ATV and helicopter.
John Schut, with Shuswap Search and Rescue, says crews spent five days combing the area where Deanna is known to hike.
“We’ve probably covered at least five square kilometres grid-searching on foot. We’ve had members on quads searching miles and miles of roads and trails. It’s a bit unusual for a search to carry on this many days but we’re trying to cover off all the possibilities,” Schut says.
The search manager says he is limited in what he can divulge due to the police investigation.
“Because the two ladies are missing in the same area things have been ratcheted up much more in the case of a second missing lady,” Schut says.
He says search and rescue was also heavily involved in the search for Ashley Simpson, who had been living on Yankee Flats Road when she went missing.
RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk says there is no indication of foul play in the case of Deanna Wertz, and no evidence to suggest her disappearance is related to that of Caitlin Potts or Ashley Simpson. He acknowledges it’s unusual to have this many people missing from the same area over a short period of time.
“Certainly, it’s an anomaly to have three women go missing in such a small community, but not unheard of,” Moskaluk says.
He says the investigations are ongoing into each of the three women.
Anyone with information related to Deanna Wertz, or Caitlin Potts or Ashley Simpson is asked to contact their nearest RCMP detachment or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
The number for the Enderby RCMP detachment is 250-838-6818.
Search and Rescue is also asking people to help out by checking their own properties and outbuildings in the area of Yankee Flats Road.
Deanna’s family, meanwhile, is holding out hope their loved one is alive, perhaps injured in the backcountry and waiting to be rescued.
“We just want her safely returned, we want to see her again,” Deanna’s sister Dawn says. “She’s a strong person, she’s used to being out in the woods. We’re hoping. But it’s been two weeks, so we’re worried.”
Deanna Wertz is described as roughly 130 lbs., with brown eyes, dark brown shoulder length hair and a dark complexion. She was last seen wearing a grey t-shirt and grey cut-off sweat pants.
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