‘Devastating’: Search continues for Sask. mushroom picker missing for 7 days

It’s been seven days since 74-year-old Lois Chartrand went missing while mushroom picking in the forest north of Smeaton, Sask.

“You always have hope. I don’t know if I could survive out there for four or five days, now it’s six days,” her husband Lorne Terry said on Wednesday.

The Whitefox, Sask. couple has picked and sold mushrooms, fiddleheads and wild berries for many years.

“This is one of the only things she loved doing,” said Terry about his wife.

He says Chartrand is familiar with the area and has been harvesting there for 30 years.

Chartrand’s son in-law Barry Legault said the ordeal has been difficult for Terry and everyone who knew Chartrand.

“It’s just devastating and we’re mystified. There’s not a trace of her. It just doesn’t make any sense,” Legault said.

Lois Chartrand is seen dancing with her husband in an undated photo. (Courtesy Barry Legault)

Legault said family members flew in from Ontario upon hearing Chartrand was lost.

According to RCMP, Chartrand was reported missing on Aug. 4.

Chartrand and a friend road a quad down a trail into the forest and then set out on foot with pails to pick mushrooms. They lost visual contact with one another while picking mushrooms.

Chartrand was last seen around 11:00 am that morning.

The friend was in contact with Chartrand on two-way radio. He tired to guide her out by sounding the horn on a vehicle.

Once on scene, police were also in contact with Chartrand on the two-way radio.

RCMP was last able to communicate with Chartrand via radio at 6:00 a.m. on Aug. 5.

Police say severe thunderstorms, wind and rain came through the area the night she went missing and impacted the search, including knocking down a search drone from above the trees.

“We are making every attempt to find Lois and return her to her family,” said RCMP Staff Sergeant Conrad Logan.

“Lois has been in the bush before and turned around and was able to make her way out but just in this instance it’s unfortunate she hasn’t been able to make it out on her own yet.”

The initial response to the call included members of Saskatoon Search and Rescue, RCMP search and rescue and local people familiar with the area.

An RCMP helicopter and the Saskatoon Police Service’s plane equipped with thermal imaging have flown the area but were unable to locate Chartrand.

Police dogs and people on horseback are also involved in the ongoing search.

RCMP said they will continue to search the area. So far, people on foot have searched an 11-square-kilometre area.

Logan estimates more than 100 police, trained search crews and volunteers have scoured the area, including members of the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency and various firefighters.

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