David Hepper found deceased off trail east of Wild Cherry

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Thursday, March 24 2016

Gabriola RCMP have confirmed that Dave Hepper was found deceased just after 12pm on Thursday, March 24.

Hepper was reported missing this past Sunday, March 20, just after 5pm. He hadn’t been seen since 9am, heading into the woods on the east end of Wild Cherry Terrace.

Cpl. Markus Müntener, Gabriola RCMP Detachement Commander, said Hepper was found roughly 40m off the trail, roughly half a kilometer east of the trailhead off Wild Cherry.

Müntener did not say who had found Hepper, saying it was someone walking the trails.

As to when Hepper died, and what the cause of death might be, Müntener said RCMP do not suspect foul play. The BC Coroners’ Service has now transported Hepper off Gabriola and will be conducting an investigation into cause of death.

The main search for Hepper, over the four days between Sunday and Wednesday, involving the Gabriola Fire Department, Gabriola RCMP, Nanaimo and K9 RCMP, and 13 Search and Rescue teams from Vancouver Island and the mainland. Up to 60 SAR members were out in the woods at any given time for the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday period. 

They were joined by a number of Gabriolans who took to the perimeter woods and trails outside the main search area to help in finding their fellow islander.

Müntener was asked if there was anything about where Hepper was found that would have caused him to have been missed.

“There’s nothing specific about the location, that would preclude anyone from finding him. It’s going to be a mystery about why that huge search effort didn’t find him.”

Müntener said while he didn’t want to speak on behalf of the family, he said from talking to them, “that they are appreciative of the community support, and the effort from SAR and all agencies involved, including Gabriolans.”