Helicopter crew from CFB Comox helps to rescue lost showshoers

Members of 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron helped to evacuate two lost snowshoers from Tin Hat mountain near Powell River on Sunday.

Members of 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron assisted Powell River Ground Search and Rescue (GSAR) teams to evacuate two lost snowshoers from Tin Hat mountain near Powell River early Sunday morning.

Powell River GSAR requested support from the Canadian Forces after conducting a successful search for two snowshoers who had become lost on Tin Hat Mountain in deep snow and challenging terrain.

A CH149 Cormorant helicopter was dispatched from 19 Wing Comox at 1:13 a.m. Sunday, and arrived in the search area, approximately 16 km north east of Powell River and south of Powell Lake, a short time later.

At the time of the call for assistance, Powell River GSAR members had located the lost snowshoers but had not yet reached them. Communications between the Cormorant crew and the GSAR team was excellent, and they were accurate and effective in helping to guide the Cormorant crew to the rescue site.

Operating at roughly 1,100 metres altitude, the Cormorant lowered Search and Rescue Technicians (SAR Techs) to extract the snowshoers who had become disoriented and lost in the dark, and hampered by deep snow.

“There was deep snow and a heavy snow load in the trees at the rescue site, which was blown around by the helicopter downwash,” said Capt. Luc Cotes, first officer of the Cormorant. “During the extraction, it was like operating in a snowball.”

The Powell River GSAR team members arrived at the site during the extraction. Two team members were exhausted from the rescue effort, so the decision was made to bring all five GSAR members aboard the Cormorant. The weight of the seven extracted persons plus the GSAR gear added to the difficulty of the hoisting under the blowing snow conditions.

Following the successful hoist extraction, the Cormorant flew to the Powell River aerodrome, where the snowshoers and GSAR team were transferred to medical care in stable condition at approximately 2:45 a.m. The Cormorant returned to 19 Wing by 3:30 a.m.

— 19 Wing

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