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Cormorant crew from Comox rescues stranded snowboarder

A snowboarder stranded in a steep ravine between Horseshoe Bay and Lions Bay was hoisted to safety Tuesday by the crew of an RCAF Cormorant search and rescue (SAR) helicopter.

The Cormorant was launched in support of the ground SAR operation after a request from West Vancouver Police was received through the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria. The helicopter, from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron, departed 19 Wing Comox and arrived on scene at approximately 8:30 p.m.

“We had great cooperation with the ground SAR crews that had already reached the snowboarder,” said Captain Francois Fasquelle, first officer. “They set off a flare to mark their position on the flank of the mountain, and then helped us navigate to their exact position via radio.”

In the midst of a sudden snow squall, the Cormorant crew worked together to maintain a safe hover near a steep cliff, enabling the Search and Rescue Technicians (SAR Techs) to be hoisted approximately 280 feet through trees to the waiting snowboarder and ground SAR members.

“Visibility was extremely poor during the hoist sequences,” said Sgt. Tony Norris, the flight engineer who operated the hoist. “In addition to the blowing snow and wind, we had very tall trees, cliffs and water in the area that made the operation challenging.”

Upon reaching on the ground, the SAR Techs used a horse collar to bring the snowboarder and the four ground SAR members into the helicopter. Once on board, the helicopter flew to Vancouver International Airport, where the snowboarder was transferred to BC Ambulance.

— 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron

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