Service being held Saturday for missing Penticton man

Memorial service will honour Albert Chretien, who went missing in the Nevada wilderness last year

A public memorial service is taking place on Saturday for missing Penticton man Albert Chretien.

“This April 14, my husband and I would much rather be going to a homecoming party for Albert Chretien than his memorial service,” said Hannah Hyland. “We miss our neighbour/friend. Very reluctantly, several months ago we had to accept that he could not have survived, nor be found.”

An intensive search of the rugged northern Nevada region where the Penticton man was last seen alive was called off. Nearly 200 people went out last May, along with the Elko County Sheriff’s Department, but the search yielded no results and the difficult decision was made to call it off after exhausting all leads.

Efforts to find Chretien, 59, were concentrated in the area of a remote forest service road near the Nevada and Idaho border after his wife, Rita Chretien, was found alive in the couple’s van seven weeks after they had been reported missing. She survived on trail-mix, melted snow and her faith. Her husband left on foot to go seek help when their van became stuck after they took a wrong turn while on their way to Las Vegas for a business convention.

As of last May, an estimated 300 square miles of territory had been scoured from the air and ground in the search for Albert. Volunteers also devoted over 1,500 man hours.

“This memorial service will be comforting as family, friends, acquaintances and even strangers of the Chretiens come to show that we care. We do care,” said Hyland. “Who did not care when we learned about their disappearance, were sad when it appeared they had both perished, stunned but overjoyed weeks later, when Rita was found alive. Amazed that Rita could survive such odds, hopeful that even something of Albert were found to give some closure. Who has not wondered how Rita and the family and close friends are handling losing Albert?”

Hyland said the Bethel Church, which has the largest seating capacity, will host the service, making it possible for many people to attend. Extra seating in the sanctuary and other parts of the building with audio and visual streams are being set up. Parking arrangements have been made so lots nearby in the library, Pen High, the Penticton Christian School on Edmonton Avenue and the Presbyterian Church on Preston Street can be utilized. A shuttle service to and from the Bethel Church will also be provided.

The memorial service will take place on April 14 at the Bethel Church starting at 1 p.m. Everyone is welcome.