A man died after falling off a cliff near Rainbow Falls last Saturday.
Jason George, a 26-year old Burnaby resident, was camping with four friends at Cogburn Beach on the east side of Harrison Lake over Labour Day weekend. According to the BC Coroner’s Service, George climbed a cliff to get a better view of Rainbow Falls. He fell to a plateau at the base and died on scene.
“When one of the men tried to climb to the waterfalls he fell from the cliff into the river,” says Sgt. Darren Rennie of the Agassiz RCMP. “Another member from the group attempted to climb down to him and became trapped on the cliff.”
RCMP, supported by Kent Harrison Search and Rescue (KHSAR) and BC Ambulance immediately responded. According to Neil Brewer, one of the team’s SAR managers, when crews arrived at Rainbow Falls, located seven kilometres up Harrison East Forest Service Road, they found one male stranded above a cliff but no sign of the second person.
“We had already activated a helicopter ‘long line’ response through Chilliwack Search and Rescue,” stated Brewer.
When the helicopter arrived on scene they had difficulty locating George, but eventually spotted him in a very dangerous location high up the falls from the road. Due to his position in the water, it was determined he was deceased.
With the light failing and a “very difficult recovery,” Brewer explains, the helicopter crew was forced to suspend the body extrication until Sunday. Meanwhile, crews on scene worked to rescue the first male from the cliff.
“Fortunately he was not injured, but it still took over an hour to get him safely back to the road,” reports Brewer. “He’d gotten himself into a nasty spot” on a cliff roughly 20 feet above ground.
As this rescue was in process, KHSAR got another call for an injured ATV rider at the 25 km mark on Harrison East, north of Cogburn Creek. The man had gone off the road at a bend, ending up approximately 100 feet down a steep embankment with both arms fractured. Once the rescue at Rainbow Falls was concluded, the KHSAR team quickly drove 18 kilometres up the road. They performed a rope rescue to retrieve the ATV rider, who was taken by ambulance to Harrison where a medivac helicopter was waiting.
KHSAR members concluded that rescue at 1:30 a.m., then were back to Rainbow Falls at 7 a.m. Sept. 6 to work with Chilliwack SAR and Valley Helicopters to extract the deceased hiker.
Barb McLintock, media relations for the BC Coroners Service, says George’s family has been notified and has asked for privacy at this time. The BC Coroners Service and RCMP continue to investigate the death.
Following the weekend incidents, RCMP remind backcountry users to use caution.
“The backcountry, although beautiful, is dangerous. Police remind everyone who enjoys these remote regions of our area to always remain aware of the dangers nature presents,” said Cpl. Mike Rail.