Sixteen years ago Tom Leonard went out on a solo sheep hunt in Spatsizi Plateau Wilderness Provincial Park and never came home.
“An initial 4 day search was conducted but was not successful and was called off due to bad weather,” his wife recently explained. “At that time my young daughters and I had to accept that we lost our husband and father. Our lives were forever changed!”
But Tammy Leonard wasn’t ready to give up. She helped organize a search for her husband in 2006, and then again the following two years. However, the trips “failed to produce any answers.”
A potential breakthrough came more than a decade later, in 2019, when a hunter contacted Tammy. Six years earlier, the hunter said, he’d seen a tent that matched a description of the tent Tom had taken into the wilderness.
“I immediately contacted the RCMP about this camp unfortunately, due to being late in the season they had to wait until the following year to investigate,” Tammy said. “It broke my heart to tell my daughters we had to wait another year.”
There were more delays in 2020 due to the road being washed out. And the RCMP said this year it couldn’t do the search due to staffing shortages.
But after Tammy posted a passionate video on social media explaining the situation, several members of Terrace Search and Rescue reached out and said they could do the search. The team included several sheep hunters.
“They’re accessing mountains differently – they’re not going for a stroll and they’re not going for a hike,” search manager Dave Jephso recently told CFTK-TV News. “With that knowledge, and other team members that we’re sending in, we believe they’re going to have success – number one, locating the campsite first, and then starting to expand the search hopefully to find belongings of the missing hunter.”
Also on the search was local drone operator Scoopeddad Drone, who filmed the team from high above. Watch his video here, and visit the GoFundMe page for Tammy, which is raising money to cover the costs of searching for her missing husband.