Friend of late hiker reflects on rescue experience, Koch's character
"David’s family and many friends have been invaluable in giving their help throughout the search." -- The family of David Koch
While vacationing in Minneapolis over Memorial Day weekend, Christine Finerty Brazell received a devastating phone call. Her best friend Suzanne's husband, Dave Koch, disappeared while hiking on Vancouver's Grouse Mountain.
Leaving behind her husband and two small children including a 7-month-old infant, Brazell hopped a plane to Vancouver where she endured eight days of the 10-day search effort.
During the search Brazell says they had a couple of hopeful moments when clothing garments were found and people called with tips and gut feelings, but nothing panned out.
"It seems like a blur. We were crazy busy every day and then the day would slip by," says Brazell, 37, who fielded media calls for the Kochs.
"Our goal was to get national media attention, especially in cities like Seattle and Portland," she says. "Because it was Memorial Day weekend, there were so many tourists."
Despite valiant efforts including a massive, 10-day search by the North Vancouver RCMP -- a volunteer, not-for-profit search and rescue team -- and more than 400 volunteers, the search was called off last week.
"It was the largest and longest search that the team had ever done, but eventually they felt like they had done everything they could," says Brazell. "We all understood, but it was hard. After 10 days a lot of people who didn't personally know (the Kochs) became emotionally involved once they got to know Suzanne and through her, got to know Dave."
Dave Koch, a publisher for DM Weekly, called Suzanne at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 25 to tell her he was on his way from a business meeting in Seattle to one in Vancouver, and that he planned to watch the sunset on Grouse Mountain once he got into town.
Credit card slips and video show that he purchased a ticket for the tram. He was seen riding up by other passengers, then walking for about 10 minutes in the atrium at the top of the mountain. Later, video revealed he left the atrium and headed to either the visitor's booth or the bathroom.
Koch's laptop, business suit and cell phone were left in the rental vehicle, which was found Friday, May 27 in the parking lot.
His body was found Tuesday afternoon by hikers, on a remote -- possibly mountainside -- trail that Brazell says was not marked on her map. Those at the scene believe it to have been an accident.
The Kochs, who have been married for almost five years, moved into a new home in Hartland last fall.
"He was a genuine person with a great spirit, a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of energy," says an emotional Brazell. "People enjoyed being around Suzanne and Dave because they made people feel good."
Dave Koch's Memorial Web site is www.finddave.net
Christine Brazell said: While it was very frustrating not to get the same media attention as the runaway bride, etc., until you've been on the mountain and communicated with the search and rescue teams, it's really difficult to appreciate all that had been done to find Dave and the terrain they were dealing with. I have never met more committed, heartfelt people in my life. It's hard to imagine how hard it is to search an area like Grouse Mountain, and no group was more qualified than the team assembled by North Shore Rescue. And we know that while there were more than 400 people a part of the official/technical search (repelling down cliffs, etc.), many people who hike the trails on a regular basis and most of the tourists on the mountain were aware of the situation and keeping an eye out for him. There were pictures posted everywhere, and the tram operators made an announcement each ride up the mountain. Please keep Suzanne, Dave's family and all of his friends in your thoughts and prayers, as well as all those volunteers who sacrificed their time to help us find Dave. We know it is precious time we can never replace.
Funki said: I was lucky enough to have met Dave and I shared some funtimes with him. I remember the first time I met him he was very kind and supportive of me and I was just a stranger. Dave's kindness will continue on through the people he has touched with his heart and encouraging spirit.
mkescout said: Dave Koch was a class act. Even in the most stressful of business situations, his chipmunk cheek smile and goofy laugh always made the hard moments pass. I have not seen him in a couple of years, but this tragedy has hit me in the heart. It makes me so angry that the national media was not more willing to aid in his recovery. If he had been a woman, it would have been different. God Bless Dave, Suzanne, family and friends. Only the good die young.
CONCERNED said: RIDICULOUS that the Canadian government decided to call off the hike. And only 400 people were used in the search effort? There are WAY MORE than 400 people searching for the missing girl in Aruba. Canada should be CUT OFF. They don't FIGHT with us against terrorists. They don't find our missing people. He probably got lost because the sign was in FRENCH.
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