On Sunday, Oct. 25, Campbell River Search and Rescue search managers received a request from Campbell River RCMP through the Emergency Co-ordination Center in Victoria, to assist an injured hiker in the vicinity of Little Jim Lake in Strathcona Park. A SPOT locator beacon had been activated and the coordinates received put the injured person close to one of the approaches to Big Interior Mountain and Little Jim Lake.

A team of four CRSAR members were dispatched to Grizzly Helicopters for a flight into Strathcona Park to locate the injured hiker and assess the situation for a rescue effort. The team quickly located the injured person and were flown to a location nearby where they landed, unloaded gear, and formulated a rescue plan. The team set up a rope system that enabled them to rappel down to the injured hiker and assess his condition. It was determined that the hiker had sustained severe injuries and an immediate extraction was required. It was determined by the search managers that the best option for this person was evacuation by using the Cormorant helicopter and SAR techs from 442 Squadron in Comox. They were dispatched to the scene and after an assessment of the hiker’s injuries, they determined that the hiker had succumbed to his injuries and was deceased.

After flying in investigating officers from Campbell River RCMP and the Coroner’s office to investigate the scene, CRSAR members were tasked with removing the deceased hiker from the slope he had fallen down and returning him and his remaining hiking companions to the south end of Buttle Lake where they could be transported back to Campbell River. The operation was concluded just before dark with some SAR members being flown directly back to Campbell River. The remaining SAR members and RCMP and Coroner returned to town by vehicles. The deceased was transported back by a local funeral company.

This rescue and recovery was a very difficult and complex operation with a variety of civilian and military agencies involved. The outcome of this accident was not what anyone would have wished, but is the reality of what can happen when caution and good judgement are not exercised in the mountain environment. The teamwork and cooperation displayed is a credit to the groups involved. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family who lost a loved one. We also would like to acknowledge the assistance of another climbing party who were in the area at the time of the accident. They initiated the rescue effort by activating their SPOT beacon and provided initial assistance to the group that the deceased was a member of.