Volunteers line up in the parking lot of Deer Park Alliance Church in Red Deer on Wednesday morning to get maps of areas to search. They also tied green and black ribbons on their vehicle antennas to show they were involved in the search

Air and ground searches begin for missing 68-year-old woman

The search for the 68-year-old woman from the Red Deer area who disappeared almost a week ago intensified with air and ground searches on Wednesday.

The search for the 68-year-old woman from the Red Deer area who disappeared almost a week ago intensified with air and ground searches on Wednesday.

Dozens of volunteers responded on Wednesday morning to conduct a search organized by her family to try and find Roze Burk. The resident of the rural area just east of Red Deer was last seen at the Deer Park Co-op grocery store in Red Deer on March 12.

As well, RCMP called in an aerial search by way of the Civilian Air Search and Rescue Association, and also requested ground search assistance from Red Deer County Search and Rescue.

Blackfalds RCMP Staff Sgt. Ken Morrison said there were three small planes in the air on Wednesday doing a grid search of the surrounding Red Deer area.

The planes can cover a lot of area and they are also able to fly at low levels so they can see more detail, he said. Police had exhausted all other avenues and the decision was made on Wednesday morning to go to the air and ground searches, Morrison said.

RCMP are looking after the outlying area, which will be recorded and documented by trained people.

They continue to follow up the tips they receive but Morrison said there was nothing new as of Wednesday afternoon.

“We’re trying to cover every avenue that we can. We take it very serious that an elderly lady is missing.”

Police speculated earlier that Burk might have headed to Manitoba because she has relatives there. However, there has been no reported sighting to suggest she did that.

The woman’s last known sighting was at the Deer Park Co-op, where she was seen leaving about 8 p.m. last Thursday. She is believed to have her small white dog Jewel, a West Highland terrier, with her.

Her bank account has not been used since her disappearance.

While RCMP do not rule out the possibility that Burk may have disappeared under suspicious circumstances, they have no indication of that at present, Morrison said.

Police and family have said Burk might be suffering from dementia-related symptoms, although she has not been diagnosed by a doctor.

Tamara Burk, who is married to Wayd, one of Roze Burk’s sons, posted a request on Facebook on Tuesday: “Hello everyone, we are asking anyone and everyone who is willing and able to help us search for Roze Burk to meet at the Deer Park Alliance Church.”

More than 60 friends, family and others, with about 50 vehicles, gathered at the church parking lot and were signed up by the family to search the city area.

Before departing, one family friend, Dave Matheson, advised everyone to not touch Burk’s grey 2008 Ford Escape (Alberta licence GCA091) if they come across it. Let police take care of the vehicle in case they need to do fingerprinting and other things, Matheson told the somber crowd.

He also warned searchers to be careful around water’s edge. “And don’t get stuck,” he said.

James Graham is a welder and friend of the Burk family. He said he took the day off to help search for the missing senior.

Another couple, Pamela and Kevin Dodd, grew up with the Burks and wanted to help.

The volunteers were handed maps and asked to search a specific area. They also provided their names and phone numbers. Family members remained at the church parking lot to co-ordinate their search, which had largely tapered off by late afternoon.

They are taking it “one day at a time,” Tamara Burk said.

The family and others have also been putting up posters about Roze Burk throughout Central Alberta since she went missing.

Anyone with information can contact Blackfalds RCMP at 403-885-3333.

barr@bprda.wpengine.com

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