Saturday was busiest day ever for Chilliwack Search and Rescue

"There were four separate incidents," said Chilliwack SAR search manager Doug Fraser.

It was one emergency after the other for Chilliwack Search and Rescue on Saturday — their busiest day in the team’s history.

“There were four separate incidents,” said Chilliwack SAR search manager Doug Fraser. “Those were the only calls we had all weekend, but it was non-stop.”

Two incidents saw recreational vehicles driven over embankments on Aug. 3, as well as swimmers who got stranded and a lost hiker.

Chilliwack SAR is the second busiest SAR team in the province, but Search Manager Dan McAuliffe, who has dedicated more than 30 years volunteering with SAR said: “Four calls in one day is unprecedented.”

The first call was mid-afternoon Saturday on the long weekend, when an ATV rider fell 300 feet down an embankment on Liumchen Bench Road near Cultus Lake.

A Bell 407 helicopter from Valley Helicopters was on-scene to allow SAR crews to put together a HETS long-line rescue, and the rider was flown directly to Royal Columbian Hospital by air ambulance.

While they were still on the first call, Chilliwack SAR was called to assist Hope SAR for another chopper based rescue at the Nickelmine Road recreation area north of Hope.

This time it was a dirt bike driven over a steep embankment and had fallen more than 200 feet.

HETS rescue technician Josef Seywerd was shocked by the rider’s relatively unscathed condition as he was being brought back up from the scene.

“Aside from a few scrapes he appeared to be uninjured,” said Seywerd.

While out on the second rescue, Hope SAR contacted Chilliwack SAR by radio to alert them of another emergency.

This time it was on the Coquihalla River at the popular Othello Tunnels area. Two young adults had been swimming in the river when they were overwhelmed by the current and swept downstream through the canyon to a section of the river between the first and second tunnel.

“All the rivers around here are at low water right now, but this particular spot above the Othello tunnels on the Coquihalla, as soon as you get past that last pool, you’re looking at water that’s extremely treacherous.”

Even expert kayakers avoid it because it’s full of drops, holes and debris.

“It’s not a place you want to be,” said Fraser.

The two swimmers made it to shore, but were stranded on the far side of the river.

Again SAR teams used long-line helicopter techniques, to assist the injured female using an aerial rescue platform (ARP).

“The uninjured male was also evacuated by long-line,” he said.

That training not only allows SAR to quickly access people in trouble, but it also saves them time and keeps the rescuers safe in the process.

The fourth and final call for help came just minutes after rescuing the two swimmers.

Hope SAR and Chilliwack SAR were called to search for a missing 16-year-old boy who was hiking a few kilometres south of Silver Lake on Skagit Valley Road.

“The terrain was steep and rugged and it initially appeared as if the search might be a long one.”

Rescuers met up with him on the trail, unharmed, just after 10 p.m.

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Twitter.com/chwkjourno

*this version has been modified from the original to correct some details.

Just Posted

Jacqueline Pearce and Jean-Pierre Antonio received the BC Historical Federation Best Article Award on Saturday for their story about translating haiku written in the Tashme internment camp.
Article chronicling haiku in Japanese internment camp near Hope wins award

Tashme Haiku Club’s work was preserved and recently translated, authors write

Police arrest the suspect in an attempted armed bank robbery on June 2 at the Scotiabank at Gladwin Road and South Fraser Way in Abbotsford. (Photo by Garry Amyot)
Abbotsford bank robbery suspect who was stopped by customers faces more charges

Neil Simpson now faces total of eight charges, up from the initial two

Kindergarten kids from Evans elementary school in Chilliwack painted rocks with orange hearts and delivered them to Sto:lo Elders Lodge recently after learning about residential schools. (Laura Bridge photo)
Kindergarten class paints rocks with orange hearts in Chilliwack for local elders

‘Compassion and empathy’ being shown by kids learning about residential schools

Chilliwack potter Cathy Terepocki (left) and Indigenous enhancement teachers Val Tosoff (striped top) and Christine Seymour (fuchsia coat), along with students at Vedder middle school, look at some of the 500-plus pinch pots on Thursday, June 10 made by the kids to honour the 215 children found at Kamloops Indian Residential School. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack students make hundreds of tiny clay pots in honour of 215 Indigenous children

‘I think the healing process has begun,’ says teacher about Vedder middle school project

Dennis Saulnier rescued his daughters, two-year-old Brinley (left) and four-year-old Keegan, after their truck was driven off the road and into Cultus Lake on May 16, 2020. Reporter Jenna Hauck has been recognized by the B.C. and Yukon Community Newspapers Association for her story on the rescue. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)
Chilliwack Progress, Hope Standard staff take home 7 Ma Murray awards

Jenna Hauck, Eric Welsh, Jessica Peters, Emelie Peacock all earn journalism industry recognition

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials watching U.K.’s Delta variant struggles, ‘may need to slow’ restart plan

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

Announcement applies to all individuals of First Nations, Inuit and Métis background

Harvesting hay in the Fraser Valley. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
COVID-19: B.C. waives farm income requirement for a second year

Property owners don’t need minimum income for 2022 taxes

Cruise ship passengers arrive at Juneau, Alaska in 2018. Cruise lines have begun booking passengers for trips from Seattle to Alaska as early as this July, bypassing B.C. ports that are not allowed to have visitors until March 2022 under a Canadian COVID-19 restrictions. (Michael Penn/Juneau Empire)
B.C. doesn’t depend on U.S. law to attract cruise ships, Horgan says

Provinces to get update next week on Canada’s border closure

Most Read