Cormorant helicopter crew helps rescue injured hikers near Agassiz

Man and son fell from trail down steep embankment near Chehalis

A Cormorant helicopter flew into the Chehalis Canyon earlier this week

An RCAF Cormorant helicopter was called in from Comox to help rescue two injured hikers along the Chehalis River, early Monday morning.

A man and his son were hiking on Sunday evening in the Chehalis Canyon area, when they slipped and fell down a cliff.

The father was able to make a cell phone call at about 7:30 p.m., to say that he and his son had fallen down a cliff and needed help. The nine-year-old boy had bumps and abrasions but was otherwise fine, said Neil Brewer with the Kent Harrison Search and Rescue. However, the father reported having injured a wrist and ankle in the fall, as well as some serious head and faces injuries. The son stayed with the father and told him he would blow his whistle if he heard anyone approaching.

Once on scene, the Kent Harrison and Chilliwack teams treated the subject and had to decide the best way to evacuate him. They determined that trying to raise the subject up to the trail would require several rope setups. In addition, carrying the stretcher along the narrow trail on the edge of the canyon was too dangerous to attempt at night. The second option would be to spend the night with the subject and move him out in the morning, but with undetermined head injuries this was not a viable option, said Brewer.

The third option was request assistance from 442 Squadron from Comox and airlift the patient out by helicopter winch rescue.

The Cormorant helicopter arrived at 12:30 a.m. The man was evacuated safely, but in the process several SAR volunteers received minor injuries from debris and falling timber from the extreme rotor wash from the large aircraft. One injured SAR volunteer member was flown out with the Cormorant to Vancouver General but has since returned home. The injured hiker was eventually transferred to Royal Columbian, where he was scheduled for surgery.

“We had excellent communication with the GSAR personnel and we were able to locate the scene quickly,” said Capt. Lucas Coates, aircraft commander. “Because of the tall trees and steep terrain, we had to hover quite high and it took a lot of cooperation amongst the crew to ensure we got our search and rescue technicians on the ground and the patient hoisted safely.”

The local team returned to Agassiz at 4:15 a.m. Monday morning. This was a huge team effort involving RCMP Officers, BC Ambulance Paramedics and Chilliwack and Kent Harrison Search and Rescue volunteers, said Brewer, and involved a hoist of 240 feet.