KAMLOOPS - After spending most of the night in the wilderness near Sun Peaks, seven missing people are home and searchers are resting up for the next call.
Kamloops Search and Rescue volunteers spent last night, Feb. 20, finding and extracting three groups totalling seven people after the skiers and snowboarders went out of bounds in the Henderson Creek area at Sun Peaks.
Search manager Alan Hobler says while the weather cooperated, it was still a long night.
“It was a crazy night,” he says. “We were fortunate it was warm last night.”
Initial reports said there were seven missing people, but it was unclear who they were. Eventually searchers learned they were looking for a family of five and a pair of snowboarders, but the first group they found around 11 p.m. were a trio, after the family split into two groups.
“I was a little baffled when I heard they found a group of three,” Hobler says. "They got tired and split up."
The three, a young man and two young women, were able to confirm how many were missing since they’d seen the pair of snowboarders.
Searchers then made vocal contact with each of the two missing pairs and used their new infrared drone to pinpoint their locations, finding the snowboarders and final two skiers in two different locations. Hobbler says the snowboarders were in the creek when found.
“Searchers were able to hear them and we were able to locate them with the search and rescue drone,” he says. “By that time it was 2:30 a.m.”
By 3:30 a.m. everyone was out of the woods. While exhausted, Hobler says all those his team rescued were in good condition and didn’t have to go to hospitals.
Hobler says this rescue marks the first time the team's infrared equipped drone was used in a search, helping locate the individuals faster than the rescue teams on the ground.
“In the future we might not have to send the searchers out searching in difficult terrain like this,” he says. “It’s really exciting for us.”
The drone would allow the team to focus more on the rescue portion of their operation. Hobler says last night might be the first time a search and rescue drone has located missing people in B.C.
While some people on social media commented they believe those rescued should be fined or charged in some way, after needing to be rescued after going out of bounds, Hobler says they have no intention of doing that. The search and rescue team is like other emergency services, and they don’t want people to delay calling if they’re in need.
“I’ve seen situations where people didn’t call for help and then it was too late,” he says.
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