A member of Mission Search and Rescue tends to injured hiker Ewa Kreczman, who fell during a day outing at Cascade Falls. Her husband Artur Siewierski saw her fall and thought he had lost her forever. / Artur Siewierski Photo

A member of Mission Search and Rescue tends to injured hiker Ewa Kreczman, who fell during a day outing at Cascade Falls. Her husband Artur Siewierski saw her fall and thought he had lost her forever. / Artur Siewierski Photo

‘I’ve never been so scared in my life’: Hiker recounts wife’s rescue from Cascade Falls in Mission

Artur Siewierski wants to fundraise for Mission Search and Rescue Society after desperate rescue

Artur Siewierski had his back turned when he heard his wife scream as she plummeted off the ledge. She had slipped on the rocks, and a simple hike had just turned into a nightmare.

“I started screaming, ‘Are you OK?! Are you OK?!’ She wouldn’t move. She wouldn’t say a word,” Siewierski said. “At that moment, I thought she had died, and I’ve never been so scared in my life.”

Siewierski and wife Ewa Kreczman, both experienced hikers from Maple Ridge, had planned an hour-long hike at Mission’s Cascade Falls on Nov. 22 with their four-month-old border collie, Mavi. At one point, they decided to hike off-trail and had no difficulties in the ascent, but the terrain became “nasty” on their last 100 metres down.

Rainy weather had turned the forest floor wet and muddy, with Kreczman slipping a few times on the moss, Siewierski said. When they arrived at a vertical ledge with a 10-metre drop on to a steep declining slope, he said they tried to get back to the regular trails.

MORE: Teenage girls rescued from Cascade Falls

But Siewierski said they weren’t sure exactly how. He found a little path “basically the width of your foot” that would traverse them along around five metres of vertical rock face.

Crossing first, he removed any loose rocks and asked his wife to pass him Mavi by using a harness. As he was setting the puppy down, he heard his wife scream.

He described briefly catching a glimpse of her falling “like a rock” and rolling another 30 metres down.

“I was shaking, standing there on the ledge holding on to the rocks, with another hand on the dog,” Siewierski said. “If anything happened to me, I couldn’t help her. If both of us die, then our daughter would be left alone.”

He carefully made his way down, tied up the puppy and started searching, screaming out for her and receiving no answer.

When Siewierski eventually found her wedged underneath a large downed tree – which, he said, had prevented her from rolling to the creek below and hitting the rocks – she was whispering, “Just take care of our daughter.”

“I said, ‘There’s no way you’re dying on me. There is no way. I’m not letting you die.’”

Kreczman was bleeding from her head, had a large green bruise on the entire left side of her face, had a broken tooth, couldn’t move and told him she thought the left side of her body was completely broken, Siewierski said.

He said she started shivering “frantically” and seemed to be in shock. When he retrieved Mavi, the puppy immediately recognized Kreczman’s situation and began to “use his little body to cuddle her and give her some warmth.”

Siewierski said he squeezed her legs and arms to make sure there was still feeling in them, and started stripping off his clothes to give her more warmth and put pressure on her head where it was bleeding. He checked his phone, saw he had a faint signal, and called 911.

Mission Search and Rescue Society (MSAR) crews arrived at the Cascade Falls parking lot within 30 minutes, but it took another hour before they were found, Siewierski said, and Kreczman’s condition seemed to be getting worse.

He said he considered leaving to go and search for them, but his wife was afraid to be left alone.

“She was deteriorating … She could barely speak. She was telling me that she was dying,” he said. “I was desperate … I started screaming ‘Help!’ ”

MSAR crews eventually heard his cries, and the first two rescuers arrived shortly afterwards, Siewierski said. He said one immediately tended to Kreczman, while the other started communicating with the rest of the team.

Siewierski said Mavi had become extremely protective of Kreczman and did not want to let any of the crews near her, forcing him to pull back and watch from a distance.

“I’ve never seen a border collie so aggressive. He was trying to protect my wife,” he said. “The little guy knew he didn’t have a chance with these guys … But he was like a wolf.”

Within 15 minutes, a crew of at least 12 rescuers was present, and Siewierski said it was amazing to watch them work as a team. Each crew member had a designated job and did not waste time putting together a plan to evacuate Kreczman.

She was eventually loaded on a stretcher, airlifted out by helicopter to the parking lot and driven by paramedics to Abbotsford Regional Hospital.

She suffered a bad concussion, a cracked vertebrae with a compressed disc and a broken thumb, and required stitches on her head, but had no internal injuries.

Siewierski said the doctor was shocked that Kreczman sustained only the injuries she did, and said he had seen much worse results from shorter falls.

Siewierski said he was so impressed and so thankful for the work that the MSAR volunteers displayed that he plans to make a donation to the society, and even wants to help them fundraise in some way.

“They rely basically on public funding. They get money from the government, but it’s not that much,” he said.

“It’s very important for people to recognize our heroes for what they do from the goodness of their hearts.”


@portmoodypigeon
patrick.penner@missioncityrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

HikingMissionSearch and Rescue

 

Ewa Kreczman hiking earlier in the hike.

The  couple's four month old border collie, Mavi. Artur Siewierski photo.

MSAR

The ledge that Ewa Kreczman fell from. Siewierski had taken a photo shortly before the incident.

Just Posted

New mural at Glenwood Elementary School designed by Jillian Currie. (Special to The News)
Maple Ridge school to unveil new mural

Grizzly bear mural to be unveiled on National Indigenous Peoples Day

Letter writer Sarah Chesterman is urging society to protect nature, noting old growth forests provide homes for animals such as this endangered western screech owl. (Special to The News)
LETTER: Maple Ridge resident urges people to value trees for more than money

Preserving old growth forests are vital to the survival of humans, letter writer says

The vigil will be held on the grounds of Holy Spirit Anglican Church in Whonnock. (Google Maps/Special to The News)
Bells will be tolling in Maple Ridge for victims of former residential school

The bells at Holy Spirit Anglican Church will toll 215 times on Monday, June 21

Share your opinion via email, through our website or in a posted letter. (Heather Colpitts/Black Press Media)
LETTER: Maple Ridge man critical of public’s gullibility

News has become entertainment and public only has itself to blame, letter writer says

Five Denny’s restaurants in B.C. will now carry Natera plant-based foods. Pictured here are the Seasoned Chick-Un Tenders. (Special to The News)
Pitt Meadows plant-based food company lands products in Denny’s

Five B.C. locations will carry Natera brand meat-alternatives

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read