THE Niseko community was rocked last month when Australian skier Scott McKay (right) went missing after leaving local bar Wild Bill’s.
An IT business owner from Brisbane, Mr. McKay, 27, was last seen leaving the popular Hirafu nightspot by himself on Friday, February 20, around 1.30am.
Friends arrived home only minutes behind Mr McKay, to find he had not returned to accommodation at Pension Fuu, on the outskirts of Hirafu at St Moritz, and notified authorities soon after.
A few hours after Mr McKay was reported missing, friends searched alongside police in a first attempt to locate him.
After initial searches failed, Mr McKay’s father and uncle arrived from Australia and signed off on an official search, which saw an increased police presence, as well as on and off-duty army, fire and search and rescue teams performed continual searches for almost a week.
Helicopters also flew low over town searching for several days, while skin divers dived in nearby rivers.
Snowfall and high winds hampered the immediate transportation of helicopters to Niseko, while the low number of sniffer dogs in Hokkaido also hindered rescue attempts.
Several sweeping volunteer searches of Niseko and the surrounding area saw hundreds of locals and tourists band together and offer their time to help search for Mr McKay, using sticks, probes, their own dogs and anything else that may have helped locate him.
Authorities were at times baffled by Mr McKay’s mysterious disappearance, especially due to the fact that he was seen leaving Wild Bill’s at a busy, populated hour, and on an evening of clear and calm weather.
All leads and possibilities were considered, said police, yet all failed to locate Mr McKay.
Before leaving Niseko bound for Australia on Wednesday, February 25, Mr McKay’s father praised the Niseko community for its help searching for his missing son. Mr McKay’s friends also returned home after almost a week of searching.
At the time of going to print, Mr McKay still had not been found.
Powderlife would like to express its condolences to Mr McKay’s family and friends, and hopes for the best possible outcome from this situation.