A pair of local search and rescue volunteers flew to New Hazelton last week to help in the effort to find a lost American filmmaker.
Warren Sill, 26, was last seen July 5 when he parked his SUV at a trailhead near Seven Sisters Provincial Park. Sill, originally from Cleveland, Ohio, had intended to film the illusive and rare Kermode bear.
When Sill didn’t return from the wilderness as planned, an air and ground search was launched July 10.
Rick Laing, team manager for Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue, along with volunteer Ciaran Connolly flew up north to help in the search and rescue efforts.
Laing said every time local volunteers are called to assist with searches in other jurisdictions is an opportunity to further hone their skills.
“We get to do things a little differently, in a different area, so that helps us [learn],” he said.
In all, close to 30 volunteers, firefighters, and police officers took part in the search, covering an area of 70 to 80 square km.
Laing helped coordinate mapping the search area, while Connolly helped out on the ground.
The search area consisted of steep mountains, and more wilderness than is typically found in local search areas, Laing said.
“There was some challenging terrain,” he said. “It was real hard going in some places.”
Unfortunately no sign of Sill was found during the two-week search, which was called off on Monday.
Laing and Connoly flew back home Friday, and arrived just in time to deal with a call for a boater in distress that night at around 9:30 p.m.
A pair of men who were fishing on the Fraser River east of 240th Street lost power to their boat after a line got tangled in the propeller. The men dropped anchor near a log boom, but the river’s heavy current forced the boat to pull on the anchor chain, in turn causing the stern of the boat to dip low in the water.
“They were in danger of being swamped,” said Laing.
Rescues crews were able to tow the boat to safety at the McKay Ave. boat launch.
Search and rescue has had few calls so far this summer, something Laing is pleased to see.
“We’ve only got about six or so, but we usually have at least a dozen at this point.”
Laing credits this summer’s poor weather for keeping hikers out of the back country and boaters off the water. He hopes Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue’s educational efforts have also played a role.
With sunny weather on the horizon and summer holidays in full swing, Laing cautioned those headed to the lakes and back country to be prepared.
“Carry proper gear, know your area, and tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back,” he said.
For more information about Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue, visit www.rmsar.bc.ca/