Ben Tyner

Princeton rescue volunteer injured during cowboy search

Major crimes unit now investigating disappearance of Merritt man

A Princeton Ground Search and Rescue volunteer was injured when he was thrown from his snowmobile during the search for a missing Merritt cowboy.

The man, who was an experienced snowmobiler, suffered a fractured pelvis, according to GSAR manager Paul Fyfe.

He was transported to hospital and later released, said Fyfe, and faces at least a 12-week recovery.

The search for Ben Tyner was called off February 3, and last week RCMP Southeast District Major Crime Unit was called into the investigation.

Princeton GSAR was one of approximately 20 crews called to assist in the initial search for Tyner, 32, who works at the Nicola Ranch and was last seen January 26.

His horse was found two days later, riderless and in full tack.

Search for missing Merritt cowboy suspended

The search effort included dog teams, helicopters and drones, and was called off “due to the extensive coverage in the area where the horse was found…as well as extreme cold and poor weather conditions,” according to RCMP Constable Tracy Dunsmore.

“Extreme cold and snow on Sunday hindered search efforts somewhat, but volunteers continued to search drainage areas and steep terrain with no results,” she said.

Princeton volunteers were asked to participate in the search January 29.

Fyfe received the call before 5 a.m. and five members of the local group made the trip to Merritt.

Over the course of the week different volunteers came forward – with two or three Princeton residents helping daily.

“We are all volunteers and we all have jobs and a personal life,” said Fyfe, who personally participated in the search for five out of six days.

Princeton searchers worked initially on snowmobiles, and then covered ground using a Utility Track Vehicle. For the final days of the search they were on foot.

The terrain was challenging in places, said Fyfe.

“It was varied. We had open pastures. We had dense treed areas and we had drainage areas that were quite steep.”

Temperatures fell last week, but that did not deter searchers, Fyfe added.

Each member carries enough emergency supplies to survive 24 hours and they are trained to work in all types of weather.

“They are apprised of the conditions and they are prepared [for] minus 20.”

Fyfe said it was disappointing the search did not yield the desired results.

“It’s an unusual event, but it does happen.”

Anyone with information or who saw Tyner anytime over the weekend of January 27 is asked to contact Merritt RCMP.

Tyner moved to the area in November 2018, from Wyoming. His Facebook page indicates a long career of farm management and ranch work.

Major crime unit brought in for investigation into missing Merritt cowboy

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andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com

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