Stacy Larson felt there wasn’t enough being done in the search effort to find missing school teacher Naomi Onotera so she put a call out on social media about organizing a search group in Langley and people answered.
Larson estimates about 60 people volunteered to search for 40-year-old Onotera at Brydon Lagoon in Langley City Wednesday morning.
“People came out from Chilliwack, Delta, Maple Ridge, Surrey and then a lot of local people as well. Everybody kind of broke into groups of four or five people and we hit up different areas,” Larson explained of the search.
Onotera she was last seen on Saturday, Aug. 28 leaving her residence in the area of 200th Street and 50th Avenue in Langley City.
On Wednesday, RCMP said the investigation into her disappearance was now with Langley Serious Crime investigators.
In the days following the RCMP’s missing person release, an online community formed dedicated to locating Onotera. A Facebook group titled, Help Find Naomi Onotera, was launched by Stephanie Stella, someone who is all too familiar with searching for a loved one.
“My family understands the anguish and trauma that occurs when a loved one disappears, after our Trina went missing in January,” Stella told the Langley Advance Times.
Stella said she received permission from Onotera’s family prior to creating the Facebook group Tuesday afternoon.
That evening Larson put a call out to the group’s now 2,500 members inviting them to Brydon Lagoon Wednesday at 10 a.m., where she would be with a few friends searching the park.
“Some of us brought sticks and rakes so we can hit up the deeper forest and other people covered the water beds and the train track area,” Larson told the Langley Advance Times Wednesday after the search.
Larson said Onotera is a teacher in the Surrey School District and teaches at Katzie Elementary.
Before becoming neighbours in Langley City, Larson said she attended high school at Lord Tweedsmuir in Surrey with Onotera.
“We picked this park because its close to our home and there’s a lot of ground to cover,” she said.
“We were looking at the website of where people were searching and nobody had done this area yet and we figured that we should hit this area up,” Larson explained, referring to the Gaia GPS app that tracks locations that have been searched.
Volunteers searched the Brydon Lagoon for about two and half hours, but found no leads to assist RCMP with their investigation.
Larson said the group will be back soon, possibly Wednesday night or again Thursday.
“I know there are lots of people wanting to help who weren’t able to come out during the day because they’re working, possibly at night it could be better,” she said.
Anyone with information about Onotera is asked to call the Langley RCMP tip line at 604-532-3398.
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