Tapes go online in missing hiker hunt

Alight tape shot taken from a helicopter in the hunt for missing hiker Tom Billings

Another area where the Briton just might be found

Tom Billings

First published in News The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Crime Reporter, also covering Barton and Wood Farm. Call me on (01865) 425427

THE hunt for hiker Tom Billings, missing in Canada, has led to hours of helicopter flight tapes going online to spread word of the search.

The 22-year-old from Boars Hill has not been seen since he set off for a short mountain trek in Vancouver in November.

When it was announced earlier this month that the search had been suspended, Tom’s dad Martin Billings said the Northshore Search and Rescue could not have done more to look for his son.

He told the Oxford Mail it was likely his son had died in a dangerous mountain area and his body had been covered up by snow.

The search involved a social media campaign which led to two calls that concentrated the hunt on one area.

Tim Jones, of Northshore Rescue team, said the move started on Boxing Day as no-one knew exactly where Tom had gone.

He said the aim was to trigger memories by showing people the landscape where they believed Tom had gone.

The video footage came from the 50 hours helicopters spent in the air.

Mr Jones said the first credible sighting of the 22-year-old came from someone who had seen the online appeal. He said another report on January 1 placed the hiker as heading to Crown Mountain on November 25.

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He said: “This was what we needed so we could focus on one area of the North Shore, not the entire area.”

But he said the team will have to wait until the snow clears to search the focus area again.

He added: “We took all inquires seriously and an eight-man team viewed the hits.

“Unfortunately the primary target area was covered in snow before we could video it.

“However, it helped rule out other priority areas. “Now we watch and wait for this area to clear in early summer.”

In all, 1,600 man-hours were committed to finding Tombetween December 4 and January 4. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police also used a special dog team in the search.

Randy Fincham, spokesman for Vancouver Police, said the force would continue to look for the hiker if any new leads came in.

He said: “All tips and leads have been exhausted and have not turned up any signs of Mr Billings.

“In the event that new tips are received, police and rescue teams will continue their search.”

s To see the videos visit youtube.com/channel/UCP5JY1rEWvpfDyoUALyootw/videos

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