Three Vancouver fisherman spent a cold night up Chehalis River, after realizing they couldn’t get themselves safely out of the bush.
Search and Rescue volunteers spent many hours scrambling through dense brush and deep water channels on Monday night looking for the three men in the Chehalis River delta, said Kent Harrison SAR member Neil Brewer.
The fishermen had made a bad decision to cross a deep channel when the river was still rising, he said, but on the positive side they did everything else right.
Once the men realized they were in trouble they stayed put and called for help. They were well prepared, carrying lighters, whistles and flares. They used a dry sock to start a fire, and built it up as best they could.
SAR members spent six hours in the bush arriving at a set of coordinates derived from one of the men’s cell phone, but to no avail. The coordinates had an error and were several hundred meters out. As the night progressed, the fishermen assumed searchers had given up for the night and would return in the morning.
In the morning the fishermen decided to stay with the fire and wait. The day before one of them had stumbled a couple of times trying to cross one of the channels and realized it was too dangerous to try finding their own way out.
At first light, a helicopter flew directly to the new coordinates and spotted the fishermen standing by their fire. The helicopter dropped two SAR members off near the fishermen, then went on to guide a Chilliwack SAR jet boat up the Chehalis River channels until they reached a location where the fishermen could be brought out to meet the boat.
The three fishermen were warm, dry and happy to be out.
SAR volunteers from Kent Harrison, Chilliwack, Central Fraser Valley (Abbotsford), Mission and Ridge Meadows SAR participated in the search and rescue.
-Submitted by Neil Brewer, Kent Harrison Search and Rescue