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Christmas Day search finds nothing at Hemlock

Kent Harrison Search and Rescue president Marvin Anderson presents long service awards to Dan and Rita Bruneski, and Jayson Gill. Submitted photo  - Submitted photo
Kent Harrison Search and Rescue president Marvin Anderson presents long service awards to Dan and Rita Bruneski, and Jayson Gill. Submitted photo
— image credit: Submitted photo

Local rescue crew members left their turkey dinners for what seems to be a wild goose chase on Christmas Day, after a series of flares was reportedly set off in Hemlock Valley.

Kent Harrison Search and Rescue was paged out at 6 p.m. on Christmas Day to help locate the source of three flares being set off at Hemlock Valley Resort. The flares had been seen by a local resident who gave a very detailed account of what he saw, said Marvin Anderson, president of KHSAR.

The information prompted a search of the southern portion of the ski area which was not yet open for the season.

Six Kent Harrison SAR members and four Hope SAR members with two snowmobiles searched the area where the flares were sighted, with no results.

The search was suspended at 11 p.m. pending further investigation by RCMP. The following days's weather did not allow for an air search, so SAR members returned to continue searching on ground, in daylight. They called the search off at 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 26, after no one was reported missing and no further evidence was obtained.

Calls on rise

The Kent Harrison Search and Rescue team has responded to 48 incidents so far in 2013, marking a 20 per cent increase over the past four years. That number is still lower than the all-time high of 60, set in 2007. There are 25 members, with two new members in training.

On Dec. 18, three members were recognized for their commitment to the team. Anderson presented long service awards to Dan and Rita Bruneski for 20 years of service, and Jayson Gill for five years.

On that same evening, Chilliwack-Hope MLA Laurie Throness visited the team to congratulate them on receiving a $41,000 Community Gaming Grant from the provincial government. The money will be used to upgrade much of the team’s rescue equipment including helmets, harnesses, lights, dry suits and vests. Thirty five of the 82 volunteer SAR groups in BC shared over $1.5M in the grant program, with an additional $250,000 awarded to the British Columbia Search and Rescue Association.

Palmer joins search in Australia

Team member Adam Palmer recently returned from a search in southern Australia and gave the team a presentation of his experiences ‘down under’. Team members were intrigued by the topography of the search area and related the scenario to how a similar incident would be conducted in British Columbia. Palmer was part of a 15-member contingent of BC SAR volunteers who travelled to Australia, with all expenses paid for by the family of the missing Ontario man. Unfortunately the subject was never found.

To find out more about Kent Harrison Search and Rescue, visit their web site at www.khsar.com. To find out more about search and rescue in British Columbia, visit the BC SAR Association web site at www.bcsara.com.

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