Found or missing? Is she dead or alive?

In February 2018, a young man named Ryan Shtuka disappeared after going to a party with friends.

The subsequent search encountered many problems, such as missing clues and bad weather over time. One of the stories in Paramount+’s Never Seen Again is about the search for Ryan, who has disappeared. People are learning more about his parents and what they did to look for him. So here’s what we know if you want to learn more.

Ryan Shtuka

Why was Ryan Shtuka injured?

Ryan Shtuka was born in March 1997 to Heather and Scott Shtuka. The young man lived in Beaumont, Alberta, Canada. People who knew him well said he was smart, sarcastic, funny and always there. Ryan was living in British Columbia, Canada, working at a ski resort in the village of Sun Peaks when the accident happened.

Ryan went to a friend’s house on Sun Peaks’ Burfield Drive a few hours before he was last seen. He left the party around 2am on February 17, 2018 when he was 20 years old. It was assumed Ryan would be going home, but he didn’t show up for work the next day and neither his phone nor social media had been used. The concerned family immediately reported him missing and a major search was launched to find him.

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Is Ryan Shtuka alive or dead?

Ryan Shtuka’s family said they didn’t know what was on his mind or how drunk he was when he left the party. Police had no reason to believe Ryan had left Sun Peaks, so they urged people who lived there to check their garages, sheds and unlocked cars for signs of him. But Ryan couldn’t be found, leaving his family and friends with more questions than answers.

Ryan’s family continued to search the area for him as the days turned into weeks. Heather said in March 2018 that she or Scott planned all searches except for a few days at the beginning. She also said, “None of us were search and rescue experts, and we didn’t even know how to do all that.” So we all had a lot to learn in the beginning, and every day was painful as we found out what we did could have done better. So while we’ve touched every part of this resort, how well have we really touched it? What were we trying to find back then?”

Finding Ryan was also difficult as the area was difficult to search and not much was known about where he might have gone. The search for him continued until the first snow fell that winter. In February 2019, Ryan’s family and friends went to Sun Peaks to remember him. Heather said at the time: “We didn’t go upstairs as grieving parents because we’re not. We have this vague sense of loss, so we can’t really hope or grieve. We are in the Netherlands right now and don’t know when that will change.

Authorities have said over the years that the case is still under investigation. But there weren’t many leads to follow and the case didn’t move forward. Ryan’s family, on the other hand, have been looking for him even though time has passed and they say they won’t stop. In June 2021, police went back to Sun Peaks to search again. Heather and Scott spoke to police often, and Ryan’s mother said this was the first organized search for him since 2018.

Heather added: “It would also be very helpful to look for his hat, jacket, shoe, phone or car keys. Things that are likely to last longer and become clearer to people as they go through them. All I ask is that people be careful, vigilant, and vigilant.” The family travels to Sun Peaks every year, and at the annual memorial service in February 2022, they participated in a candlelight vigil and skiing. Heather also said they would be looking for Ryan again in April 2022.

What does Sun Peaks Resort mean?

In Sun Peaks, British Columbia, Canada, 56 km (35 miles) northeast of Kamloops, there is an alpine ski area called Sun Peaks Resort.

The ski resort’s highest point is 2,080 m (6,820 ft) above sea level, which is a rise of 881 m (2,890 ft) from the base of the summit. The resort has 16 square kilometers (6.2 square miles) of drivable terrain, making it the second largest in Canada. An average of 5.6 meters (18 feet) of snow falls each year. On average, Sun Peaks gets more than 2000 hours of sunshine per year.

There are 137 slopes, 16 clearings and 40 kilometers of cross-country trails. Tod Mountain, Sundance Mountain and Mt. Morrisey are the three mountains that make up the ski resort.

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There was a party on February 17, 2018

People thought Ryan would walk the short distance from the party on Burfield Drive in Sun Peaks to his house. It was not clear how drunk he was after drinking at the party.

Friends became concerned when he failed to show up for work later that day. That night, Ryan’s roommate texted his parents, Heather and Scott Shtuka, and they informed police that Ryan was missing.

Due to the fact that it was approximately -20°C (-4°F) that night, the person in charge of the search didn’t think there was much of a chance of finding Ryan alive.

The first searches were conducted in the area between the party Ryan left the night of his disappearance and his home. Over the next few months, the search was aided by the RCMP helicopter, canine teams, and a dive team. But nothing was found.

In 2018, the family conducted a first quick search of the area. From April 2019 they began a more thorough search of the area using backhoes and bobcats to move snow and volunteers conducting a grid search. But nothing was ever found.

Shtuka’s disappearance is still under investigation, but the lack of leads and the notion that the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) didn’t try hard enough to find Ryan has led to much wild speculation. For example, people in the community are afraid of bad things like a serial killer.

Since he went missing, hundreds of Alberta and British Columbia volunteers, as well as local search and rescue teams and the RCMP, have been searching the village and the nearby forests, trails and mountains for him. But so far nothing has come.

Ryan Shtuka
Ryan Shtuka

How was Ryan Shtuka injured?

Search and rescue teams initially thought Shtuka had fallen into a gully, which was then filled with snow over the weekend. But when the snow melted at the end of winter, there was no sign of him.

Jean Strong, the editor of local newspaper Sun Peaks Independent News, said she had read several theories online about what happened to Shtuka. “From being kidnapped to engaging in sex trafficking, drug dealing, aliens or an animal attack. I think every other crazy idea you can think of has been discussed online.”

Jim Reid was staying with friends near Shtuka’s house the night of her disappearance. He told CBC that he overheard a strange conversation outside in the middle of the night. Reid said, “I heard a man’s voice, and she was angry.” He said the person he heard shouted, “Get in the damn car!” Reid says he told the police what heard, but after they called him back a couple of times, he hasn’t heard from him since.

One person who believes Shutka’s life ended violently is retired RCMP investigator Bryan Smith, who came from Alberta to help the Shtuka family search at the request of a friend. Smith was a Mountie for 25 years and had investigated several missing persons cases. He had also worked as a ski patrol and horse guide, and conducted many backcountry searches.

His first thought was that Ryan was lost in the rough terrain around Sun Peaks after getting lost in deep snow. But he changed his mind while talking to one of Shtuka’s friends. “The friend seemed very nervous and scared of himself, which struck me as odd,” Smith said, but he didn’t want to give the friend’s name. “I knew in my gut that this was probably a murder and not just a missing person.” Smith said he told the RCMP what he found.

After speaking to everyone who knew Ryan before he went missing, police said they had no reason to believe a crime was involved. But some people living at the resort still don’t believe this story.

Heather and Scott, Ryan’s parents, searched for him in the Sun Peaks area for four months. Heather Shtuka says it’s unlikely her son was killed. “He’s not argumentative, he doesn’t stir up trouble and he wouldn’t bother to start anything. We don’t know why Ryan disappeared, how he disappeared, or where he went. We want to believe that we will find him because the love of parents is so strong.”

The Shtukas may have seen their son going to the center of the resort to get some food. The person who saw it was sober and knew the exact time it was seen.

Alan Hobler, the manager of Kamloops Search and Rescue, was interviewed for a Canadian CBC documentary. He said that although it had snowed a few inches since Ryan’s disappearance, any footprints he had left were very clear. No, none were found.

It’s an odd case because neither Ryan’s family nor the RCMP have seen him for more than three years (as of March 2021). Sniffer dogs found no scent trails, and there were no footprints in the snow, and no sign of bodies, clothing, or blood after the snow melted.

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