Missing boater rescuedIncident serves as reminder to make plans known, bring communication device
Northern News Services
Thursday, June 8, 2017
A missing boater used 2x4s to create a help sign on the shore of the Mackenzie River, leading to his rescue last week.
This "help" sign written out of 2x4s helped air rescuers locate a missing man along the Mackenzie River last week. - photo courtesy of Cheryl Williams
Five organizations collaborated to rescue the missing man.
The boater was reported missing May 30 at 10:30 a.m., after not having been heard from since May 27.
The Civil Air Search and Rescue Association Inuvik (CASARA) launched aircraft while the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary's (CCGAs) Inuvik Marine Rescue Unit launched its rapid response vessel.
"The gentleman went out to do some traditional hunting and there was no word from him," said Cheryl Williams, administrator for the CCGA's Inuvik Marine Rescue Unit.
Four CCGA members set off to search for the missing man.
Conditions were dangerous on the Mackenzie River due to debris and large ice chunks floating north.
"It was fairly treacherous just to navigate through that kind of river condition," said Williams. "That's essentially what happened to the gentleman. He got trapped in ice and it took his boat away, so he was left standing on shore with no way to travel the river system. He was wise enough to realize that the ice was closing in around him, so he did get on shore, but he couldn't secure his vessel."
CASARA was able to relay abandoned vessel locations, large hazards in the water and remote camps. It took just over four hours to find and locate the missing person, who was 40 miles downstream on the Mackenzie River and brought back to Inuvik by boat. Searchers found the man by sighting his "HELP" sign made out of 2x4s on the ground.
The man was uninjured and released after assessment at the Inuvik Regional Hospital.
"He was elated that we located him," said Williams. "His health status was reasonably well. He was a little thirsty, but he had entered a cabin and acquired some food with supplies that were stored there."
Searchers secured his vessel to trees and his family went out to retrieve it later in the week.
"I'm just glad we could help the family and relieve that stress of not knowing where a family member is," said Williams.
The CCGA reminds boaters to make a plan and tell someone before heading out on the land or water, bring and wear lifejackets, bring extra food and foul weather gear and, if possible, bring a Spot or inReach device or handheld VHF radio.
"The Mackenzie River requires a lot of respect, and I think the safety lesson is, don't go out in conditions that could possibly endanger your life," said Williams.
"His family knew where he was headed and that assisted a great deal with the search. Make sure you've got a really well-laid travel plan and some way to communicate."
She thanked CASARA and the RCMP for their assistance.