Tracy Hughes, Salmon Arm Observer editor

Column: Watching and waiting in Silver Creek

Observer editor Tracy Hughes reflects on covering the police search at the Sagmoen farm

To say that things are a little bit weird around here would be an understatement.

Since a massive police presence moved into Silver Creek on Oct. 19, to be followed by confirmation that weekend of human remains being found on the Sagmoen farm, it has been flat out around the newsroom.

It started for us with a tip on a Facebook page about police vehicles massing in Silver Creek, so we sent a reporter to check it out. It was a busy deadline day, but it sounded a bit unusual so away we went.

What we found was a police presence on a scale I have not witnessed in the 20 years I have worked in this newsroom. The Wildfire of 1998 had many officers come in, but to see the level of resources and the obvious technical and forensic skills of the RCMP officers brought onto the Sagmoen farm is unprecedented in my experience.

Also since then I have been speaking with some of the families of women missing in our area. To say that has been difficult would also be an understatement.

The weight these families are carrying is so heavy. John Simpson, father of missing woman Ashley Simpson, says the pain is so great some days that it makes it hard to even breathe. With the discovery in Silver Creek, the anguish and anxiety is ramped up again.

It leaves these poor people torn within themselves – part of them wants answers and closure for what may have happened to their loved one, another part is hoping against hope that it is not their family member found dead.

Their stories have hurt my heart. There are so many questions and so few answers, it becomes hard not to speculate. It is hard not to develop an attachment to the people left waiting and wondering about their daughter, sister or friend. With three children of my own, I have been hugging them a little tighter and a little longer than before this began.

I must confess I’m not sleeping very well these days.

People want answers and there are so few. More will emerge eventually, of course, but it requires coping with high emotions in the meantime – fear, anger, confusion, ambiguity. None of these are comfortable emotions.

Added into the mix is the fact we are the local reporters – which means something different than the big guns who have swooped in from Vancouver.

We live here. We know many people personally. We have covered their quilt shows and Halloween events – and we will still be here when big video cameras and the satellite trucks disappear.

So for me, it’s both professional and personal.

And in this time of more questions than answers, I’m trying to hang on to a few things. One is hope. That came out loud and clear in Silver Creek on Saturday, where neighbours came together to eat, play, relax and share with their community. It is a powerful message that hope and community spirit can thrive, even in dark times.

I’m also leaning on faith in those RCMP officers working on this case. While they are not talking publicly, I am confident many of them feel a passionate connection to the families involved and an insatiable wish to see justice served in this case. They do know more than the rest of us, and I do not doubt it is a heavy burden for them.

So for now, we wait and wonder.

I wish I could share something more profound. But that’s all I’ve got.


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