Search and Rescue organized for overdue hunters near Fort Smith; found safe at cabin

Search and Rescue in NWT
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Fort Smith RCMP coordinated a Search and Rescue for two people reported overdue. On Saturday, November 14th, at approximately 5:45 p.m., RCMP received a report that a hunting party of two males had not checked in per the agreed schedule. It had been 48 hours since the last check in via an emergency communication device.

RCMP began an investigation to locate the individuals. Through the investigation it was learned that the party was travelling in the Fort Smith area, in an area known as Grande Detour cabin, which is approximately a 1.5 hr snowmachine ride northwest of Fort Smith. While too dark to deploy a search party that evening, arrangements were made for a helicopter search the next morning. Joint Task Force North activated the deployment of the local Canadian Ranger contingent to assist.

On Sunday, November 15th, a message was received from the communication device. However, as there was no way to establish two-way communication, the Search and Rescue efforts continued. Using helicopter support, the RCMP located both individuals in good health at the cabin. They had experienced mechanical troubles with their ATVs, but made it safely to shelter. They believed they had been sending messages regularly, however, the device was not working properly.

Contributing factors were also the changing terrain conditions due to extremes of the environment. From the increased water levels this year, to the early onset of snow in the area, trails may have changed considerably.

“We are thankful the individuals were found in good health. As their messages were not being received, this highlights the necessity of checking that all equipment is in good working order” states Staff Sergeant Ken Beard, acting South District Officer NT RCMP. “This also highlights the benefits of leaving a detailed plan with a trusted person”.

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