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Suspicious object in Mount Seymour creek prompts new search for missing British tourist
A suspicious object spotted from the sky during a sweep of the North Shore mountains on Dec. 19 prompted North Shore Rescue on Monday to conduct a thorough search of a Mount Seymour drainage area — in the hopes of finding clues into the disappearance of missing British tourist Tom Billings.
"We spotted what we thought was a shelter in Suicide Creek," North Shore Rescue leader Tim Jones told The Outlook on Tuesday.
The object in question turned out to be a old insulate foam pad.
"We had to check it out because, in that drainage, nothing should be in there. We would be remiss if we didn't," said Jones.
His voice filled with frustration when speaking about the month-long missing persons case.
The 22-year-old Billings was last seen on the morning of Nov. 25 in the 1400-block of East Broadway in Vancouver. Based on information found by Vancouver Police on Billings' computer, it's believed he made his way by public transit to the North Shore for a day hike.
Two separate tips from the public that placed Billings on Grouse Mountain and Delaney's Coffee House in Lynn Valley prompted exhaustive searches of the North Shore mountains. So far there has been no sign of the young tourist.
"The biggest thing is we need someone to come forward with credible information that he was over here in the first place," said Jones. "The difficulty is, if a person goes missing and you don't have any idea of a direction of travel on the North Shore — they can be on any three mountains."
During yesterday's search, which continued from daylight to nightfall, NSR concentrated one on the specific creek on Seymour.
Jones explained the elaborate operation took all day because of the weather and the logistics of staging a helicopter in the Seymour River valley. As the doors of the helicopter are kept open to give NSR spotters a better vantage point, it takes an hour to sweep a small section.
According to Jones, NSR will continue looking for Billings, even if it's not part of an official search.
"Members of the team are doing private hikes," said Jones.
He has spoken with the family, who Jones said is supportive of NSR and their efforts to find their son.
"The hardest part for them is that they are in London, England," said Jones. "They are very distraught, it's been crushing for them, like any parent."
Billings is described as a Caucasian male, five-seven and 160 pounds with short blond hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a black jacket and military-style pants.