RCMP haven't given up on finding May Milling's body but friends and family believe the time has come to say goodbye.
A service is planned for Milling, 81, at Sunshine Coast Golf and Country Club in Gibsons on May 1. Friend Jenny John said the date is appropriate given it's May Day.
"Instead of a funeral service it will be a celebration of life," John said Sunday. "The family is ready to move on and friends want to get this done."
Although she knows the chances are slim, John hopes ongoing recovery efforts will find Milling's body in time for the celebration, she said.
She intends to visit Clearwater and meet in person with the RCMP officers she's had many conversations with. John, who will read Milling's eulogy at the service, also wants to see the spot where her friend's car crashed into the water.
Police believe Milling's southbound Buick veered off Highway 5 near Mad River and down a 30-metre embankment last August. Officers found pieces of glass, a taillight and ICBC papers identifying Milling on Oct. 16.
An RCMP dive team searched the North Thompson last fall, but only found bits of Milling's 2009 Buick Lucerne before the water became too murky.
The search recently resumed when GP Recovery Services out of 70 Mile House used a miniature robotic submarine to scour the river with the help of search and rescue volunteers.
Clearwater RCMP Cpl. Chris Newel said the submarine set out three times during the last couple of weeks but only found bits and pieces of the car. The vehicle and Milling are still missing.
Newel said an RCMP helicopter did an aerial search south of the crash site but also found nothing. He promised the effort would continue until the high-water mark is reached later in the spring.
"We're still at this. We've by no means have given up," he said.
Milling was not married and had no children. She left Gibsons Aug. 26 and headed for Grand Forks, Radium, Banff and then on to Jasper, a journey she made annually.
She was en route to Kamloops from Jasper to visit John when she disappeared.
© Kamloops Daily News