Louise Baxter in a photo shared while she was missing last summer from Jumbo pass. File photo

B.C. woman lost for three days on trail urges for search and rescue funding

East Kootenay volunteers searched 3 days last summer for Louise Baxter

In her first interview after spending three days lost on Jumbo Pass with her poodle Maverick, Louise Baxter praised the throngs of BC Search and Rescue volunteers who dropped everything in their personal and professional lives last August to find her and return her safely to her family.

“I was by myself not understanding all that was going on for me,” she said, adding that she remains awed by the scale of the search effort and the number of people who raced to help.

The mission involved more than 35 volunteers from eight search teams, three RCMP detachments, three helicopters, four search dogs and a drone.

The search to find Ms. Baxter occurred while BC’s Search and Rescue teams were funded through a three-year arrangement with the provincial government that provided the Columbia Valley Search and Rescue (CVSAR) with $80,000 annually. CVSAR search manager Steve Talsma said the provincial funding is running out, with the tap shutting off at the end of March.

He said the Valley’s Search and Rescue operation is “in an OK position to get through this year” but he is concerned about the future. A typical call takes CVSAR a few hours and runs from $3,000 to $5,000, but longer and more complex missions can run up to $100,000, he said. CVSAR also has costs to train volunteers and maintain equipment to allow volunteers to be effective in their roles.

READ MORE: Concerns rise as B.C. search and rescue funding set to expire

“We’ve had a good three-year run, and now we’re going to have some work ahead of us,” he said.

Both he and Ms. Baxter hope to see the provincial funding resuscitated.

“How do I feel about it?” Ms. Baxter asked. “At any moment it could be someone that you know that needs (to be rescued), especially in the kind of area that we live.”

Ms. Baxter knows how quickly fates can shift for those out enjoying the mountains.

She had only intended to leave her hiking group briefly to take Maverick to a lookout point. Then the weather changed, obscuring the path she had travelled.

“I was convinced I knew how to get back to the cabin, and so I was trying to find my way back there. But I was already totally lost. I was on the wrong side, the opposite side, of the mountain on the West Kootenay side, which I had no idea,” she said. “At first it was like ‘I can’t believe I got myself lost’ and then it was terrifying.”

To calm down, she prayed and repeated a mantra she learned in her yoga class as the days turned into nights and the nights turned back into days.

Hope also came from above when helicopters circled overhead, when she ended up on a road and when a vehicle rumbling in the distance drew close before the occupants welcomed her inside.

Ms. Baxter travelled from Cranbrook to share her appreciation in person at the Columbia Valley Search and Rescue annual general meeting on Wednesday, February 27th.

“I just wanted to really thank everyone for what you do,” she told the volunteers, adding that she is deeply grateful to everyone who gave up three days of their lives to help her keep hers.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Thieves break into mailboxes overnight in Courtenay, Comox

Thieves in Comox were busy overnight on March 17, breaking into more… Continue reading

Man convicted of Courtenay couple’s murder

Michael Philip Simard, 45, was charged with two counts of second-degree murder.

Comox Valley RCMP looking for help to identify shoplifters

The Comox Valley RCMP is asking for assistance from the public to… Continue reading

Haida Manga artist to speak at North Island College

Award-winning visual artist and author Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas will speak at North… Continue reading

UPDATE: Courtenay home a ‘write-off’ after Sunday afternoon fire

Two occupants of the home and one of a neighbouring house were treated for minor smoke inhalation

VIDEO: RCMP ask kids to help name soon-to-be police dogs

13 German shepherd puppies will be born this year

Comox Valley Hospice Society finds new Ocean Front home

Comox Valley Hospice Society (CVHS) recently announced plans to construct a new… Continue reading

No injuries, pollution in Vancouver Harbour ship collision: Transport Canada

Transportation Safety Board says it has deployed a team of investigators look into the incident

Budget 2019: Five things to watch for in the Liberals’ final fiscal blueprint

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will release the Trudeau government’s final budget on Tuesday

New concussion guidelines launched for Canada’s Olympians, Paralympians

The guidelines will be in effect at this summer’s Pan American, Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru

Alphonso Davies doubtful for Canada game against French Guiana in Vancouver

Canada will be without injured captain Scott Arfield and veteran Will Johnson

Watchdog called after man who yelled racial slurs at B.C. vigil hurt during arrest

BC RCMP say man was ‘acting suspiciously’ at prayer vigil for victims of New Zealand mosque shootings

NDP’s Jagmeet Singh steps into the House of Commons, making history

Burnaby South MP becomes first visible minority to lead a federal party in the House of Commons

Most Read