Last Wednesday, RCMP were called to a residence on Richter Road at approximately 8 p.m., where they found the body of 55 year-old Douglas Smith.
“It is almost a bit unreal still for most people. This has always been the kind of place where people look after one another, so it doesn’t feel real,” said Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen director for the area, Angelique Wood.
Some in the community, perched just 29 kilometres west of Keremeos, believe Smith suffered a deadly gunshot wound. RCMP have yet to confirm the details surround his death. Wood said many residents in the close-knit town of about 250 people suspect it was someone who knew Smith.
“His very loyal dog was not in the trailer with him … That is one of the reasons friends went looking for him because his dog Rascal, a blue-heeler, was running around town,” said Wood.
Smith was expected at a engagement that evening with a friend and when he didn’t show up the friend went looking at Smith’s trailer to see what was happening. Wood said when he got there the trailer was locked so the friend got another man to help him get in and that was when they found Smith’s body.
“Doug liked to live life and I think that is the thing pretty much everyone is wondering about because he would befriend pretty much anyone. He didn’t have a bone of judgement in his body. It is just questionable about who might have taken advantage of that,” said Wood.
The area director said she recalls the first time she met Smith was when he warmly welcomed her into town with a bunch of breakfast trout. She said the truck driver, who recently underwent surgery to repair crushed discs in his back, has lived in the community for over 20 years and has two children who are now in their 30s.
According to Wood, Smith was an important part of the community. His uncle once owned a mill in Hedley and Smith became involved with the community club when land from the mill was donated to create a ballpark.
Wood recalls Smith as always having an upbeat attitude and years ago would take kids fishing up Nickel Plate Lake to share his fondness of the outdoors. She said his death may also be so surreal because she cannot recall Hedley ever having a homicide, or even a historical murder going back to the gold rush days.
“Until there has been a chance to have a funeral and really say goodbye properly, it is going to be on everyone’s minds, or at least until the police have someone actually under lock and key,” said Wood.
Now one week after he was found dead, RCMP presence around Smith’s residence has dissipated.
“The Major Crime Unit continue to investigate and are looking for any witnesses who can provide police with information about this tragic incident,” said Const. Lesley Smith, North District media relations officer.
Anyone with information regarding the death of Smith is asked to contact the Princeton RCMP at 250-295-6911. If you would like to remain anonymous call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).