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New search underway for missing southern Alberta man
Marshal Iwaasa, 26, was reported missing by family after a truck, believed to be his, was found burned-out in Pemberton. (Calgary police)
LETHBRIDGE -- Lethbridge police say a comprehensive ground search is underway in the remote and mountainous terrain where Marshal Iwaasa’s burned out vehicle was found last November.
The 27-year-old man was last seen by relatives in Lethbridge on November 17, 2019. He told family members he was returning to Calgary, but hasn’t been seen or heard from since.
Iwaasa’s code was used to access a storage locker in North Lethbridge the next morning, and his burned out truck was found by hikers north of Pemberton, B.C. just over a week later.
In a news release issued Wednesday, the Lethbridge Police Service announced that police, with assistance from Pemberton and surrounding RCMP detachments, have commenced an exhaustive search of the remote and mountainous terrain.
A helicopter and all-terrain vehicles are being used to access the search site. Police said an RCMP fire investigator, several private investigators and members of the Canadian Search and Disaster Dogs Association will be conducting a ground search Wednesday and Thursday.
Police also said members of the Iwaasa family will be in attendance, which was a surprise to family members in Lethbridge.
"It definitely was a total surprise to me," said Marshal’s sister Paige Fogen, who is currently under quarantine, after arriving from Hawaii last week.
Fogen and her husband Dawson are in the middle of relocating to southern Alberta to be closer to family, who have been coordinating a high profile social media campaign to raise awareness about Marshal’s disappearance, and try to find out what happened to him.
"We are open to all possibilities of what could have happened to Marshal," said Fogen. "All of them are scary at this point."
A spokesperson for the Lethbridge Police Service said they could not disclose which family members were in attendance at the search site, but Fogen said they were initially told by RCMP that they had to wait until the search was concluded before visiting the site.
"We do have a big family and so it is a possibility that someone’s up there, but everyone who has been working very closely with this, we’re all here."
Lethbridge police said while Iwaasa’s disappearance is considered suspicious, there is no "credible, corroborated or compelling" information to suggest foul play or that the matter is criminal in nature.
Fogen admits that it is possible Marshal took his own life, but she said it’s also possible that he was murdered. She hopes police will continue investigating until they have concrete answers about what happened to her brother.
"I’ve always been concerned with tunnel vision essentially."
Fogel adds that while the family is disappointed by certain aspects of the investigation, they are happy that the search is being done, and are grateful for everyone participating in the search effort.