Terrace Search and Rescue members Jon Coutts and Ryan Bougie prepare to leave Terrace for Watson Lake to assist in the aerial search, which was key in leading the family to the lake to be spotted by the ground team. Terrace Search and Rescue members Jon Coutts and Ryan Bougie prepare to leave Terrace for Watson Lake to assist in the aerial search, which was key in leading the family to the lake to be spotted by the ground team.

Searchers rush to find missing hikers with one-year-old child

Family out overnight in cold near Watson Lake

The family member of three people at the centre of a search and rescue two weeks ago wants the public to know that the parents in that situation did exactly as they should.

Search and rescue went looking for a couple and their one-year-old daughter near Watson Lakes (about 55 km east of Terrace), Oct. 12.

Carla Gillis, mother and grandmother to the missing trio, says the story was covered by this newspaper online, and since then, the young family has received a barrage of negative comments on social media. She says the family was not mushroom picking, as originally reported, but hiking in an area they knew well. She adds they don’t deserve the negativity because they acted responsibly and expertly.

The family went for a quick hike up the mountain trail but on their way back down were startled by two large dogs, which scared their own smaller dog into the woods. They turned off their planned route to search for their pet, Gillis said, adding it’s easy to get turned around fast in that area.

When it started to get dark, the parents decided to stop for the night for safety reasons. They could see Highway 16 and the Skeena River but had decided not to risk getting lost in the fading light. They fed the baby their food and water, while the couple ate mushrooms and drank creek water, she added.

Gillis noticed they were missing at 6 p.m. but thought they may have just been out longer than expected. She waited until 10:30 p.m. before she called police.

The hiker’s family members went out searching in four teams from Shames Mountain, Copper Mountain to White Bottom, Gillis says, and were on their way out to Kitwanga when police found the couple’s truck at 3:30 a.m. Police called search and rescue, says Gillis.

As the Standard reported, immediate concerns over the welfare of the young child propelled SAR, when called at 5 a.m., to ensure the search was conducted immediately.

Teams were sent out to the area as soon as possible.

Lighting the area with headlamps and flashlights, two SAR teams and an RCMP dog search team hurried to conduct a trail ground-sweep using whistle blasts and other sound-attracting techniques.

As daylight approached, additional searchers, a SAR Mobile Command Post and air support joined the search effort. The SAR team soon spotted smoke at the far west end of Watson Lakes and then two individuals.

Gillis said her daughter and son-in-law at the time were planning a route to get back when a search helicopter showed up and took them to the highway where family was waiting.

The family was assessed to be in good condition and returned home.

Just Posted

New hospital cost to taxpayers still unknown

Ellis to probe budget estimates: “I’m still not convinced it will actually go ahead”

Ross is counting on Wilkinson to stick to his promise to fight for the north

Skeena BC Liberal MLA Ellis Ross is counting on newly-elected BC Liberal… Continue reading

BC BUDGET: New spaces a step to universal child care

Fees reduced for licensed daycare operators

BC BUDGET: NDP cracks down on speculators, hidden ownership

Foreign buyers’ tax extended to Fraser Valley, Okanagan, Vancouver Island

BC BUDGET: Payroll tax replaces medical premiums

Health spending to increase $1.5 billion for drugs, primary care teams

VIDEO: Top 10 B.C. budget highlights

The NDP is focusing on childcare, affordable housing and speeding up the elimination of MSP premiums

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

BC Wine Institute to take legal action against Alberta

The BC Wine Institute to seek injunction to protect B.C. wineries from Alberta wine ban

BC BUDGET: Tobacco tax hike may light up black market in smokes

NDP government adds another 56 cents per pack as of April 1

4 treatment centres to open in memory of B.C. teen who died of an overdose

A treatment centre for addictions is opening in Penticton after the first one fell through

Quesnel Soup event to crowdfund community improvement projects

Groups invited to pitch; event attendees will vote to help fund innovative community projects

BCHL Today: Merritt peaking at right time and Taylor signs with UNH Wildcats

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Video: B.C. firefighters featured in quirky video

Oliver Fire Department posts video about their B.C. volunteer firefighter spring training seminar

OLYMPIC ROUNDUP: Two more medals push Canada into third place

A gold in ski cross and a bronze in bobsleigh as men’s hockey advances to the semis

Most Read