- BC Games
Body believed to be Burnaby mushroom picker
The family of a 71-year-old Burnaby man who went missing while picking mushrooms east of Vernon last month has received the worst news possible.
Nakusp Search and Rescue, with the help of a police service dog, found a body in the bush about 40 metres from a spur road that connected to the road where Kyung Chun abandoned his van after it got stuck in the mud. He was originally reported missing Sept. 19.
RCMP said there was no obvious signs of trauma to the body, and foul play isn’t suspected.
Chun, according to his daughter Sandra, has been a hobby mushroom picker for 15 years. Though he normally goes picking with his wife, Seol, on this particular trip he was helping a friend collect pine mushrooms. The area is popular with mushroom pickers, who sell their finds from nearby campsites.
“He doesn’t even go into the woods,” said Sandra. “He’s a driver. He always said if he goes into the woods he’d die.”
Chun had some health issues.
He received a kidney transplant, had a pacemaker, and had two strokes in the past, Sandra said, causing him to walk with a limp. But his mental state was sharp.
On Saturday, Sept. 14 around 6 p.m., Chun realized he’d misplaced some of his medication and told his picking partner he was returning to Burnaby to get a refill and would be back on Sunday night.
On Monday, a group of campers saw his van stuck on the road as they were heading into the woods. When they returned from the bush on Thursday, Sept. 19 and saw the van still there “red flags and alarm bells went off,” Sandra said, and Nakusp RCMP were notified.
“My mom got a call that afternoon saying do you know where your husband is, and she said no.”
Meantime, Chun’s picking partner didn’t feel anything was amiss when Sunday came and went with no sign of Chun, and eventually hitched a ride back to Revelstoke and caught a Greyhound to the Lower Mainland a few days later.
“It didn’t set off any alarm bells for him,” Sandra said. “That’s why I’m so angry with this man.”
Chun had been seeking a shortcut off the mountain on the logging roads and had reached a dead end when he got stuck on a muddy track. He was only about seven kilometres from the main track, Sandra said, and the area is frequented by pickers.
“When you’re picking you’ll go anywhere and everywhere,” she said.
Sandra said it appears he had attempted to free his wheels from the muddy track on the evening of Sept. 14, without success, then opted to spend the night in the van. There was plenty of food and fuel in the van, she said, so she wonders why he didn’t just sit tight and wait.
The next morning, it seems, he tried to find his way out. The van was found locked, with the driver’s side window cracked open a little to let the mushrooms breathe.
“Everything from there is a mystery.”
When Sandra and other family members arrived to assist search-and-rescue volunteers Sept. 21, she was surprised because the area didn’t appear desolate at all; there were several well-used roads and in many cases the surroundings were opened by clearcuts. It didn’t seem an area where one could easily get lost, she said, and she wonders if the stress of the situation contributed to his disappearance.
“Maybe he was disoriented. There’s obviously something that happened when he left the van, to make the choices he did. It’s horrific. It’s a nightmare.”