KAMLOOPS — It’s been almost nine months since Ryan Shtuka vanished from Sun Peaks with no trace. Since then, the mountain resort community has become a second home for the Shtuka family as they continue to search for their missing son.
Saturday at Sun Peaks Resort, the remnants of an early November snowfall still going to areas of higher elevation. Ryan's mother headed up late last week from her home in Alberta to give one final, thorough search before heavy snowfall plagues the area.
It’s close to two weeks from opening day at the resort, but for Heather Shtuka, Dec. 1 is a more poignant date.
“The year anniversary coming up is terrifying to me,” Shutka said. “Dec. 1 will be a year since I last saw him when he left to come to Sun Peaks. You know, the big hug and kiss goodbye.”
It’s been just over 11 months since Scott and Heather Shtuka last saw their son Ryan. The 20-year-old left Beaumont, Alta. to spend last winter at Sun Peaks Resort, working and riding the mountain. In the early morning hours of Feb. 17, he left a house party on Burfield Drive — and hasn’t been seen since.
“I’m sad more often than anything else because I don’t know where he is,” Heather explained. “We spend so much time talking about what happened to Ryan… but my son lived a whole life up until then.”
When he first went missing, the family was at Sun Peaks full-time, and since the end of May have returned at least once a month to ensure their quest to find out what happened to their son maintains momentum.
“We’ve been lucky because from the very beginning we’ve never been alone,” Heather said. “In our absence, people are continuing to search, spreading awareness, putting up posters.”
It’s a cause the people of Sun Peaks have taken up as their own.
“Although what’s brought us together is something so tragic and sad, seeing people willing to give of themselves so freely — their time, their energy, their money — and to be pulling together for a common cause. You feel it in your heart,” local searcher Sharon Tremblay told CFJC Today.
For the Shtuka’s, coming back to Sun Peaks is a way to remain connected with their son. While the snow is coming, and with it, a whole new batch of young skiers and boarders, Heather hopes to keep her son at the front of mind in the Sun Peaks community
“You come up here for a certain culture — snowboard and ski and enjoy like-minded people — but Ryan’s face should serve as a reminder to be aware,” Heather said. “Whatever that means. We’re not sure why Ryan went missing, where he went missing, how he went missing so there is no message we can give to people concretely, and say ‘If you don’t do this, you don’t have to worry…’ My message to people, in general, is to just be aware.”
WATCH: Full interview with Ryan Shtuka's Mom Heather from Saturday, Nov. 3rd
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