Comox Valley Fog interferred with rescue mission

The thick fog disrupted travel at Comox Valley Airport — and rescue missions, too.

THICK FOG COVERED the Courtenay Airpark on Tuesday morning

The thick fog that blanketed the Comox Valley affected not only commercial travel at the Comox Valley Airport, but those working to help people in need.

Capt. Hugh Kennedy of the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) in Victoria said the low-lying fog affected civilian and military flights, limiting the ability of aircraft to take off and land.

The JRCC aids with deployment of 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron, which consists of pilots and Search and Rescue Technicians who are deployed for search operations mainly within the province and the Yukon.

“It really places limits for us,” Kennedy said of fog. “The lowest we can depart is with a quarter-mile visibility, and at times, we don’t have that.”

He added JRCC is in constant communication with the crew, based at CFB Comox, and it’s their final decision whether they can depart for a search.

“We keep monitoring the weather; sometimes at 500 feet you have blue sky,” he noted.

Kennedy explained the centre works in conjunction with other organizations as well, such as the Coast Guard and ground search and rescue groups.

On Monday, Comox Valley Ground Search & Rescue was called out for a mutual aid call with Campbell River Search and Rescue.

The search employed a privately owned helicopter from Ascent Helicopters to fly CVSAR’s rope rescue team north of Sayward to aid an injured forestry worker.

“(The fog) certainly affects us,” said Paul Berry, search manager for CVGSAR. “At the call (Monday), 442 and the Coast Guard could not assist.”

Berry added because of the weather, the helicopter was unable to use their usual pickup site at the Courtenay Airpark, and had to use a site on Piercy Road near the Inland Island Highway, above the fog.

Darren James Wilson, 39, of Sayward was identified by the BC Coroners Service as the man who died Monday while working on a forestry operation north of Sayward.

“He died before he could be transported from the area to hospital,” the coroner’s office said in a news release.

photos@comoxvalleyrecord.com

 

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