Family of missing man from Squamish, B.C., still looking for answers in Manitoba

A Squamish, B.C., family is seeking answers as the search for a man reported missing in southwestern Manitoba in early August continues.

Keith Zajac, 55, was reported missing from Squamish, B.C., on Tuesday, Aug. 2, Manitoba RCMP said in a news release.

The next day, Aug. 3, Blue Hills RCMP received a report of an abandoned vehicle on the shoulder of Highway 1 at Highway 459 West, in the Manitoba rural municipality of Whitehead, west of Brandon.

His brother Jeff Zajac recently departed Brandon after spending a week searching for his brother.

Jeff believes Keith is experiencing some type of medical emergency.

“There’s something going on with him and he needs help,” he said.

For now, Jeff is hopeful for an update on his brother, and is working to keep the word out there in the hopes it will “tweak a memory” in someone who may have seen him.

“If he’s in some kind of a medical emergency or some kind of medical episode. You know, I just hope people are understanding and if they see it, they contact the RCMP right away,” Jeff said. 

‘I just want to bring Keith home’

Pam Zajac said her husband left home on Friday, July 29, to drive from Squamish, B.C., to Fort Frances, Ont. 

His arrival in Brandon marked his third day on a road trip to meet up with his uncle and brother for a fishing trip. Pam became concerned Monday when she had not heard from him. 

The last time they spoke, Keith had told her he had been feeling ill with what could be heat stroke. His phone had not been working correctly, she said, and she expected to hear from him when he arrived in Fort Francis.

By Tuesday when Pam had still not heard from her husband she reached out to his uncle, Stanley Zajac, and his brother.

“I did find out that he had spoken to his mom Sunday night after he had spoken to me, telling her to ask Uncle Stanley and his brother Jeff to stop phoning because he couldn’t answer it and he couldn’t get the voicemail. Because this phone was not working.” Pam said.

“She had asked him, ‘Where are you?’ And he said, ‘I don’t know.’ And I didn’t find that out until Tuesday.”

She contact the RCMP on Tuesday, Aug. 2, in the hopes they could help locate her missing husband.

The family had initially hoped it was a situation where Keith wasn’t feeling well and had been checked into a hospital under a John Doe alias, or he had broken down on the side of the road and would soon be in contact.

Instead, the family has been left searching for answers.

“I just want to bring Keith home,” Pam said.

The family has hired a private investigator from Vancouver who will represent the family in the search, said family friend Sandy Yates. The investigator arrived in Brandon on Wednesday.

“Our biggest concern, obviously, is, you know, obviously time is ticking,” Stanley said. “But also, you know, you have a bit of a flurry of activity in those first couple of days. And then, of course, everyone goes back to their lives.”

A witness reported seeing a person that fit Keith’s description and clothing hitchhiking east on Highway 1, she said. Another witness who saw him later reported seeing him hitchhiking west on Highway 1 on Aug. 1.

They are hopeful for dash cam videos that could help track Keith’s movements.

Keith Zajac, pictured here, was travelling to Ontario to meet family when it’s believed he went missing in Manitoba. (Submitted by Pam Zajac)

A friend in Squamish contacted hospitals and health centres in the region because Keith was not been feeling well and was showing some signs of confusion before his disappearance. Stanley noted Keith does not have a history of physical or mental illness or drug use.

She described Keith as “absolutely salt of the earth” who was easygoing.

“He’s one of those, you know, give me the shirt off his back down home sort of country boys,” Pam said. “You needed it, he’d help you.”

It is believed Keith had spent the night of Sunday, July 31, at the Super 8 Hotel in Brandon, Man.

He is five feet, ten inches tall and weighs about 170 pounds with blond hair and blue eyes, RCMP said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Blue Hills RCMP at 204-726-7522 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477, or submit a secure tip online at manitobacrimestoppers.com.

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