Lost on Grouse Mountain

David Koch is missing on Grouse Mountain. He has been missing since Wednesday, five nights now, and there remains only a slim probability of his survival.

I met him Tuesday afternoon. He was making a promotional tour for his magazine, DM Review. He had a boyish face and thinning hair. His smile seemed expectant, as if someone were about to deliver a punch line. His conversation was softly spoken and hesitant or perhaps merely polite, paced to encourage interruption. He was, after all, from Wisconsin where time flows like glacial ice.

The Vancouver Sun reported the contents of his rental car left at the base of Grouse Mountain. There was the stuff typical of a business trip—dress shoes, white shirt, black suit, laptop, Blackberry—and the embarrassingly human details—a receipt for a Butterfinger and a nail file bought in Beaverton, Oregon. It’s rather startling like peering from the window of an elevated train into someone’s apartment and witnessing an unguarded moment, a candid gesture or expression that is utterly unimportant and completely human. He liked Butterfingers. It’s simply not something you expect to know about a dead man you met only once.

I was likely one of the last people to see David alive and know him by name. He left our office in Seattle and, next day, drove north to Vancouver, British Columbia. He crossed the Canadian border at 6:30 pm. Before checking into his hotel he stopped and bought a ticket for the tram to the top of Grouse Mountain. (The summer day’s are long in these latitudes, lasting until 10:00 pm.) He didn’t return with the last tram of the day. Perhaps he decided to walk down the mountain. There are well groomed trails but nightfall might have overtaken him.

This morning when I returned to the office after the Memorial Day holiday I had voicemail left by Mike Gellati of the North Shore Search and Rescue Team. He had called the previous Sunday, the fourth day David had been missing. My name and phone number was in David’s day scheduler. I returned his call but there was nothing I could add to what he knew already.

He said they had positive identification of David on videotape at the chalet on top of the mountain, after which he simply vanished. Helicopters, men and dogs have been searching for him since. Gellati is baffled. It’s the sort of disappearance that happens only once every decade, he said—a well defined search area, sufficient resources to make a through search, and nothing found. He fears that their operation has changed from rescue to recovery.

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3 thoughts on “Lost on Grouse Mountain”

  1. I couldn’t be more shocked and saddened to hear about David. I grew up with his wife Suzanne in Northern Wisconsin. Suzanne was my older sister Christine’s best friend all through my sister’s life. Tragically and ironically, my sister died 5 years ago on a mountain in Tanzania, Africa. I can imagine the grief and heartbreak Suzanne must be going through, however, she is reliving this painful experience all over again. My sister was missing for two days before the airplane she was in was located, and her body found. Suzanne was an unbelievable source of support and love as well as hope during that heartbreaking time. For her to experience this pain twice with the two people closest to her is unimaginable. For anyone who is near the mountain and sees her little blond head, please tell her that Gena wanted to remind her that her guardian angel Christine is watching over her and Dave. Please give her all of my love and support, as I do not want to contact her during this hectic time. I feel like I am frozen here, as I am living in Los Angeles, far away from Vancouver and Wisconsin, where Suzanne and David’s families must be praying, searching, and calling for him. If I can do anything to help, please email me at genawelchy@yahoo.com I am sending out all of my love and hope that David will be found safe and alive. Sincerely, Gena Welch

  2. Gena:
    All week I’ve been praying for David without knowing it was a prayer. I can’t imagine the depth of his wife’s loss. A sudden death – a car wreck, a derailed train, an airplane fallen from the sky – is tragic but comprehensible. David’s disappearance is even more difficult because it’s inexplicable.
    An officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police called me today and again I had nothing useful to offer, certainly not an explanation. Nor could they offer hope.Now there is only silence.

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