A member of Mission Search and Rescue tends to injured hiker Ewa Kreczman, who fell during a day outing at Cascade Falls. Her husband Artur Siewierski saw her fall and thought he had lost her forever. / Artur Siewierski Photo

A member of Mission Search and Rescue tends to injured hiker Ewa Kreczman, who fell during a day outing at Cascade Falls. Her husband Artur Siewierski saw her fall and thought he had lost her forever. / Artur Siewierski Photo

‘I’ve never been so scared in my life’: Hiker recounts wife’s rescue from Mission falls

Artur Siewierski wants to fundraise for Mission Search and Rescue Society after desperate rescue

Artur Siewierski had his back turned when he heard his wife scream as she plummeted off the ledge. She had slipped on the rocks, and a simple hike had just turned into a nightmare.

“I started screaming, ‘Are you OK?! Are you OK?!’ She wouldn’t move. She wouldn’t say a word,” Siewierski said. “At that moment, I thought she had died, and I’ve never been so scared in my life.”

Siewierski and wife Ewa Kreczman, both experienced hikers from Maple Ridge, had planned an hour-long hike at Mission’s Cascade Falls on Nov. 22 with their four-month-old border collie, Mavi. At one point, they decided to hike off-trail and had no difficulties in the ascent, but the terrain became “nasty” on their last 100 metres down.

Rainy weather had turned the forest floor wet and muddy, with Kreczman slipping a few times on the moss, Siewierski said. When they arrived at a vertical ledge with a 10-metre drop on to a steep declining slope, he said they tried to get back to the regular trails.

MORE: Teenage girls rescued from Cascade Falls

But Siewierski said they weren’t sure exactly how. He found a little path “basically the width of your foot” that would traverse them along around five metres of vertical rock face.

Crossing first, he removed any loose rocks and asked his wife to pass him Mavi by using a harness. As he was setting the puppy down, he heard his wife scream.

He described briefly catching a glimpse of her falling “like a rock” and rolling another 30 metres down.

“I was shaking, standing there on the ledge holding on to the rocks, with another hand on the dog,” Siewierski said. “If anything happened to me, I couldn’t help her. If both of us die, then our daughter would be left alone.”

He carefully made his way down, tied up the puppy and started searching, screaming out for her and receiving no answer.

When Siewierski eventually found her wedged underneath a large downed tree – which, he said, had prevented her from rolling to the creek below and hitting the rocks – she was whispering, “Just take care of our daughter.”

“I said, ‘There’s no way you’re dying on me. There is no way. I’m not letting you die.’”

Kreczman was bleeding from her head, had a large green bruise on the entire left side of her face, had a broken tooth, couldn’t move and told him she thought the left side of her body was completely broken, Siewierski said.

He said she started shivering “frantically” and seemed to be in shock. When he retrieved Mavi, the puppy immediately recognized Kreczman’s situation and began to “use his little body to cuddle her and give her some warmth.”

Siewierski said he squeezed her legs and arms to make sure there was still feeling in them, and started stripping off his clothes to give her more warmth and put pressure on her head where it was bleeding. He checked his phone, saw he had a faint signal, and called 911.

Mission Search and Rescue Society (MSAR) crews arrived at the Cascade Falls parking lot within 30 minutes, but it took another hour before they were found, Siewierski said, and Kreczman’s condition seemed to be getting worse.

He said he considered leaving to go and search for them, but his wife was afraid to be left alone.

“She was deteriorating … She could barely speak. She was telling me that she was dying,” he said. “I was desperate … I started screaming ‘Help!’ ”

MSAR crews eventually heard his cries, and the first two rescuers arrived shortly afterwards, Siewierski said. He said one immediately tended to Kreczman, while the other started communicating with the rest of the team.

Siewierski said Mavi had become extremely protective of Kreczman and did not want to let any of the crews near her, forcing him to pull back and watch from a distance.

“I’ve never seen a border collie so aggressive. He was trying to protect my wife,” he said. “The little guy knew he didn’t have a chance with these guys … But he was like a wolf.”

Within 15 minutes, a crew of at least 12 rescuers was present, and Siewierski said it was amazing to watch them work as a team. Each crew member had a designated job and did not waste time putting together a plan to evacuate Kreczman.

She was eventually loaded on a stretcher, airlifted out by helicopter to the parking lot and driven by paramedics to Abbotsford Regional Hospital.

She suffered a bad concussion, a cracked vertebrae with a compressed disc and a broken thumb, and required stitches on her head, but had no internal injuries.

Siewierski said the doctor was shocked that Kreczman sustained only the injuries she did, and said he had seen much worse results from shorter falls.

Siewierski said he was so impressed and so thankful for the work that the MSAR volunteers displayed that he plans to make a donation to the society, and even wants to help them fundraise in some way.

“They rely basically on public funding. They get money from the government, but it’s not that much,” he said.

“It’s very important for people to recognize our heroes for what they do from the goodness of their hearts.”


@portmoodypigeon
patrick.penner@missioncityrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

HikingMissionSearch and Rescue

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

The  couple's four month old border collie, Mavi. Artur Siewierski photo.

MSAR

The ledge that Ewa Kreczman fell from. Siewierski had taken a photo shortly before the incident.

WEB

Just Posted

The Sts’ailes Community School in the winter of 2019. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)
Sts’ailes Community School to extend online learning until Feb. 8

The Sts’ailes First Nation remains closed to visitors

Agassiz resident Miel Bernstein is collecting sanitary products for locals in need. These products came from her donation drive before Christmas and were delivered to people in need in Chilliwack and Agassiz. (Contributed)
Agassiz resident collecting pads, tampons for women in need

The program will help provide menstrual and incontinence products for people in Chilliwack, Agassiz

(THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Seabird Island to receive COVID-19 vaccine in the coming weeks

All members 18 years and older will be eligible to be vaccinated

Prolific offender Jonathan David Olson (left) and Brodie Tyrel Robinson, both of Chilliwack, were convicted of several offences in BC Supreme Court in August 2019 in connection to a crime spree on the Canada Day long weekend in 2017.
Chilliwack gangster sentenced to 11.5 years in prison for 2017 crime spree

Jonathan Olson involved in shooting a fellow crime associate in the head

Pete Ryan, known all over the world for his chainsaw carvings, died on Friday, Jan. 8. He was 70 years old. (Contributed Photo/Dignity Memorial)
Iconic Hope chainsaw carver Pete Ryan has passed away

Ryan is a founding member of Hope’s famous chainsaw carving community

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
536 COVID cases, 7 deaths reported as B.C. find its first case of South African variant

Henry said 69,746 people have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials says it will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s. (Canadian Press file)
Full parole granted to former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse of boys

Alan Davidson convicted of abusing boys in B.C. and Saskatchewan in late ’70s, early ’90s

The first COVID-19 vaccine arrives in B.C. in temperature-controlled containers, Dec. 13, 2020. (B.C. government)
More vaccine arrives as B.C. struggles with remote COVID-19 cases

Long-term care homes remain focus for public health

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in 60 B.C. First Nations by next week

B.C. has allocated 25,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to First Nations for distribution by the end of February

Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone questions the NDP government in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 25, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Todd Stone says he’s not running for B.C. Liberal leadership

Kamloops MLA was widely viewed as a front-runner

Most Read