Never forgotten: Kootenay man still missing after 20 years

Never forgotten: Kootenay man still missing after 20 years

Bryan Gay disappeared in Skagway Alaska Sept. 26, 2000

After 20 years there’s been no trace found of Bryan Gay after he went missing near the small town of Skagway, Alaska.

He’s just gone.

While the mysterious disappearance of the Montrose native has long since faded from the headlines, his family’s thoughts, questions, and searing pain about what could have happened to Charles Bryan Gay — who went by Bryan — are as strong today as the day he vanished, Sept. 26, 2000.

“I always want to talk about Bryan, doesn’t matter whether I have tears or not,” his mom, Mary Gay, shared with the Times.

“I think of him every day. I even had a dream one time that he opened our back door and walked in,” she tearfully recounted.

“I said, “Hi Brian, where have you been?”

Mary remembers the joy of the moment feeling it was true, but cold reality set in when she opened her eyes to an empty room, and no Bryan.

Her boy was still gone.

She still lives in the family’s Montrose home. But after years of waiting for him to walk through the door especially at Christmas, Mary can now say out loud that she is certain Bryan is dead.

“Everybody loved him, he was such as sweetheart,” she said in a mix of laughter and tears. “But no, he is not alive. If he was, he would have been in contact with us.”

More Trail Times stories here: Local stories

Latest on coronavirus is here: COVID-19

The day was Tuesday when her son, then 28, went missing.

He was a university-graduated geologist who was highly experienced in the rugged back country, having just finished working his third summer at a job in Whitehorse.

Before heading back home to B.C., a friend drove Bryan to the bus station where he bought a ticket to Skagway and once there, checked in to a hostel.

Mary says her son wanted to hike a popular wilderness trail into the Dewey Lakes, located in an alpine range that begins right at the edge of town.

He left on his adventure that morning and was never seen again.

Bryan Gay of Montrose went missing in Skagway Alaska on Sept. 26, 2000. (Charley Project photo)

Searchers scoured the mountains and for many months, no sign of the young geologist turned up anywhere.

The last trace of Brian’s known path was found a year later in an old cabin at the top of Upper Dewey Lake, which is straight up the mountain about five kilometres from the village of 968 people.

A search and rescue team came across a sign-in book inside the mountain-top shack, which held pages of “made-it-to-the-top” signatures so hikers could read who finished the trek before them.

The book was somewhat ravaged by time and elements. But, by happenstance, one of the searchers noticed faded pen markings that, in just the right light, revealed a scratch-note from Brian.

“Great day, great hike, but this goddamn pen ran out of ink. Brian G.”

Mary remembers the community rallying to raise money for the family to travel to Skagway and retrace her son’ steps the following spring. They even consulted a psychic to help guide their journey through Skagway in early 2001.

She recalls so much goodwill from locals and those up north, all helping to emotionally and financially support their searches made that first year with a rented motor home serving as base camp.

Brother Kevin Gay travelled back to the Alaskan town for years hoping to find a clue of what happened to his younger brother. Youngest sibling Mary Ann was first on stage in Kelowna seven years ago to ask internationally known spiritual medium Sylvia Browne if she could tell her anything about her missing brother.

All roads led to nowhere.

(Story from the Trail Times, October 2000)

(Story from the Trail Times, October 2000)

Nothing has every been found of Bryan other the note he left behind in that remote trapper’s shack.

Twenty years on Mary has submitted her DNA for forensics should this cold case ever be solved.

She’s kept herself going by giving back to others in so many ways, such as sitting on Montrose council, and by volunteering for the Legion, community events, senior dinners, food banks and of course, for her treasured Beaver Valley Nitehawks.

Mary is now 78. She keeps her sights on the days ahead, but never far behind is her fierce longing that Brian will someday be found and brought home to rest in peace alongside his dad Butch Gay, a kind and loving man who passed away five years ago.

“All we can do is hope and pray that something will come out of this,” Mary smiled. “Because things have been found 20 years later in other (cases), so you just don’t know. And we still think of him every single day.”



newsroom@trailtimes.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

kootenaymissing person

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

Grand Forks RCMP say the deceased’s car fell off Highway 3, west of the city. File photo
Motorist killed in Highway 3 crash was a Castlegar man: Grand Forks RCMP

The man’s family has been notified, according to Cst. Corey Flodell

Interior Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new death in the region Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
79 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths reported in Interior Health

Both of Friday’s deaths were both recorded at long-term care homes

Grand Forks RCMP, left, and Grand Forks Fire/Rescue attended a fatal Highway 3 crash Thursday evening, Jan. 21. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Motorist dies in Highway 3 crash west of Grand Forks

City first responders were called to the scene Thursday evening, Jan. 21

Interior Health reported 91 new COVID-19 cases in the region Jan. 20, 2021 and three additional deaths. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
95 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health, two deaths

Another member of Vernon’s Noric House has passed

Grand Forks Fire/Rescue members push Engine 352 into its new home at the Carson Hall Wednesday, Jan. 21. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
WATCH — Grand Forks Fire/Rescue brings home new engine

Department members welcomed Engine 352 to Carson Hall in a special “push” ceremony

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Most Read