Smithers residents are rallying behind the family of Calvin Madam, whose body was found in a ditch along Highway 16 last Tuesday.
The 30-year-old Smithers man had been missing for three days before he was found by a maintenance worker near the Six Mile Brakecheck near Topley, between Houston and Burns Lake, on April 7.
His last communication was at 8 a.m. on April 4, when he called his wife Tia Leask from a Greyhound bus station.
He had been in Prince George receiving treatment at a detox centre.
A missing persons bulletin being circulated on Facebook last week said it was believed Madam had been dropped off near the Palling reserve after midnight on April 5.
The post, written by members of Madam’s family, also expressed concerns about his health.
“Calvin is a struggling alcoholic, with critical liver failure,” read the bulletin.
“Please help us bring him home to continue his healing and recovery from this awful disease that has taken far too many of our people!”
It also said Madam might have been trying to hitchhike back to Smithers.
On April 7, a search party including family members went to a forest location near Burns Lake where Madam had reportedly been sighted.
The search was still underway when the family received the tragic news of his death.
Madam’s mother-in-law Marie Martin, who was part of the search party, said they were close to the location where he was found.
“We finally did a search close to Six Mile Summit,” she said.
“We were in that area but we were not close enough.”
Although the B.C. Coroners Service had not released any details about Madam’s death at the time of print, Martin said the service had confirmed he died from natural causes and that foul-play had been ruled out.
Martin said the family is now mourning the loss of a wonderful husband and loving father.
“He was very generous, he would help anybody if they asked him for help,” she said.
“He was very giving of himself.
“He just had a big heart, very friendly with everybody. He had a beautiful heart and would help anybody.”
Last week family friend Becky Stavast started a fundraiser for Leask and her two daughters.
The Support for Tia Leask Facebook page calls on the Smithers community to donate items to auction for the fundraiser.
Stavast also set up a donation account at the Bulkley Valley Credit Union.
“Not only is Tia dealing with the loss of her best friend, supporter and husband, but she also has two little princesses that she needs to be strong for,” wrote Stavast on the Facebook page.
“One of her girls suffers with autism, this is a full-time job for Tia.
“Tia is a wonderful mother and does her best for these little girls.”
Stavast told The Interior News she felt the auction was something that needed to be done.
“I just feel that this is a family in need and we are all friends and our kids go to the same school and it’s just a tragic situation,” she said.
More than 280 people had joined the Facebook group before Friday.
Martin said her daughter was overwhelmed with the support from the Smithers community.
“She’s just happy how much respect is going out there for Calvin and the condolences and it’s amazing,” she said.
“It made her so happy today, she goes ‘Mum I can’t believe what a wonderful community we have here, how much they are helping me and the kids and you and our family.’”
Martin said the Street Corners Ministry had also been helping her family.
For more information about how to donate to the Leask family visit the Support Auction for Tia Leask pages.
The auction closes on April 30.