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Lucky to be alive

Erin Fletcher
Northern News Services

Inuvik (Dec 08/03) - Four women are "lucky to be alive" after nearly getting lost in a blizzard early last week.

At 9 a.m. on Dec. 2, Inuvik residents Gail Raddi and Ester Frost and Aklavik residents Tara Joe and Amy Semple left by snowmobile from Aklavik for the two-hour trip to Inuvik.

They ignored weather warnings, weren't dressed for the weather and had been drinking, said Inuvik RCMP Cpl. Merle Carpenter.

They soon got lost.

When they failed to arrive home, police were notified, said Carpenter.

Inuvik residents Hans Lennie, owner of Westwind Recreation, and Joe Arey volunteered to go out and search for the women.

The two men are experienced hunters and know the region well.

"It was blowing pretty good," said Lennie.

"We couldn't see anything. The only thing we could hope for was they were sitting in a camp somewhere and they were."

Lennie and Arey searched the banks of the Mackenzie River while another half dozen search and rescue volunteers headed out from Aklavik.

Lennie and Arey checked every cabin along their route.

They learned the women had taken shelter with Eva Jones at a cabin mid-way between the communities and were being escorted to Inuvik by Dougie Joe.

"It was very smart of them (to stop at the cabin)," said Lennie. "If they hadn't done that, they could have gotten turned around on the Mackenzie."

"Hopefully they learned a lesson," said Carpenter.

"Don't travel with improper clothing and don't travel in a storm."

"You should always let people know where you are headed, wear proper clothing and call someone when you get back into town," added Carpenter.

The women declined an interview.