Searchers comb area for missing Penticton couple

Friends and family continue to search for missing Penticton couple Al and Rita Chretien by logging kilometres in their own vehicles in Oregon.

Albert and Rita Chretian were reported missing by their family after they have not been heard from since they left for a road trip to Las Vegas. The couple were last spotted in Oregon on March 19.

Albert and Rita Chretian were reported missing by their family after they have not been heard from since they left for a road trip to Las Vegas. The couple were last spotted in Oregon on March 19.

Friends and family continue to search for missing Penticton couple Al and Rita Chretien by logging kilometres in their own vehicles in Oregon.

Tim Hoving, brother-in-law to Al Chretien, said he and his wife Lorraine have been searching the highways since Sunday.

“My wife and I have probably driven about 450 to 500 miles (720 to 800 kilometres) in the last three days. We pretty well covered all the roads within all 50 to 100 miles (80 to 160 km) of Baker City. So we were on backroads, side roads — sometimes two and three times,” said Hoving, who is from Birch Bay, Wash. “A lot of it we stop, get out of the car and look. Another four or five people have also come from Penticton to look.”

Hoving said searchers have followed a tip that was released this week where a Baker City businessperson believed the Chretiens had stopped in on March 19, the last day they were seen, between 3:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. inquiring about tourist destinations near Baker City.

“We have gone on that tip, gone to the local sights and taken missing persons flyers. We went to Sumpter and they said they had not seen them, and of course the police had also gone there before. They are very much on top of the situation here,” said Hoving. “We have been to other cities nearby but nobody has seen them. We are confident that everything is being done to find them.”

Hoving said a major snow storm came through on Wednesday hindering some of the search. He said many of the roadways are similar to that of the trip between Penticton and Hope with everything from high country, down along rivers and steep cliffs.

Over 40 law enforcement officers and 18 search and rescue volunteers continue searching in conjunction with an aerial search. Baker City sheriff’s office said over two days there has been 13 flight hours travelling in excess of 1,600 km over southeastern Oregon, although weather conditions have prohibited an aerial search of Baker County. Law enforcement agencies in Idaho, Nevada, Utah and Arizona are being provided information related to the missing couple, along with requests for assistance.

Anyone with information related to the Chretiens or their missing vehicle are asked to call the toll-free US/Canada tip line at 1-877-987-8477.