A search and rescue effort is ongoing in the Elk Valley for an Alberta man who disappeared in April.
Lauren Craven was last seen on April 7 in Wildwood, about 120 km west of Edmonton.
On Aug. 26, his vehicle – a distinctive 2003 Toyota Corolla – was found abandoned about 15 km north of Sparwood, according to Sgt. Brad Gregory of the Elk Valley RCMP.
RCMP searches have been conducted in the region on several occasions with the help of police dogs and Sparwood and Elkford Search and Rescue.
The most recent search was on the weekend of Oct. 1 and 2, but nothing has been located so far to indicate the location of Lauren, according to Gregory.
“We continue to search for Mr. Craven, and hope to bring more local awareness to this missing persons case.
“If you have any information to share about this case please contact the Elk Valley RCMP.”
Christy Craven, Lauren’s wife of 39 years, spoke with The Free Press about her husband’s disappearance.
The pair are owners of Fallis Country Store and Liquor for over 22 years, and had become a hub for their Alberta community. On Aug. 31, the store closed down due to Lauren’s disappearance.
Lauren hit his head in a fall a few years ago, and Christy said over the last couple of years they noticed some personality changes.
“He had good days, but then he had other times that were more and more common that he was off,” she said.
The last week or so before he disappeared, he seemed more involved in the store and more cheerful.
“The day he left, he helped unload our liquor order. It was a sunny day, things were just wonderful,” Christy said.
The last time Christy saw Lauren, he was leaving on a business errand to the neighbouring town of Wildwood.
“He walked out the door. He didn’t call us and that was the last anyone has seen Lauren. He disappeared. He got in his car and he went for a drive.
“I think he was just overwhelmed with everything in life, and just decided he was going for a drive, which he liked to do to be by himself, and to think, and to block out all the chatter, block out the world and just think.
“I think that’s what his original plan was, but I don’t know what happened after that.”
A missing person bulletin was released in April, and Christy got help from her community to search.
“I didn’t know a thing until I got the visit from two constables on August 26 saying the car had just been found down by Sparwood.”
Christy visited the Elk Valley on Aug. 29 and 30, and took a drive with Sgt. Gregory to the site where Lauren’s car was found.
“Any hunters that are out in the area, if they see something unusual. I mean, that would be appreciated, if they reported it to the RCMP.”
She expressed deep appreciation for the efforts the Elk Valley RCMP and community have been putting into the search.
“I was feeling like a lost soul, and kind of floundering figuring out what to do next, and they stepped up, and they’re an awesome group down there.”
She said she misses Lauren and his humour, and said he is a caring member of the community.
“It was easier for him to help others in trouble than it was for him to accept help when he should have had it.”
Christy expressed hope that someone had seen Lauren’s car or interacted with him while he was in the region. She said he sometimes went by his middle name, Don.
“I would love him home, but I would love closure, at least knowing what’s happened.”
Anyone with information about Lauren Craven can contact the Elk Valley RCMP at 250-425-6233, 250-423-4404, or 250-865-2232. While his vehicle was found, if you saw it before August 26, please contact the RCMP. His vehicle was a a 2003 Toyota Corolla with ski racks and stickers on the back window, including a distinctive ‘Pee on Trudeau’ sticker. The license plate was CKK-9977.