The driver and two passengers of a pickup truck were rescued by Canadian Rangers after being stranded in deep snow for more than 20 hours on a closed section of winter road.
“They were grateful for our arrival,” said Master Corporal Chris Koostachin of the Fort Severn Canadian Ranger patrol. “We dug them out, gave them food and the fuel for their vehicle that we had brought, and sent them on their way.”
The truck became bogged down on the winter road between Fort Severn in northern Ontario and Shamattawa in northern Manitoba on April 6. The male driver and his two female passengers were trying to return to Shamattawa after visiting relatives in Fort Severn.
Although they had a snowmobile on the bed of their truck they could not use it because they had inadequate clothing for the cold weather, which dropped to –19C overnight.
The Ontario section of the 320-kilometre long road was closed for the rest of the winter two days before they set out on their return journey to Manitoba. Heavy snow and blowing winds forced its closing but the driver and passengers thought they could drive it safely. Instead they bogged down midway, just inside the Ontario-Manitoba border.
They had a satellite phone, which could only send and not receive calls, and it took them six hours before they were able to alert anyone to their predicament, as the temperature plunged and they watched their fuel gauge drop. The truck engine was their only means of keeping warm. They eventually got a Ranger in Fort Severn on the phone and he alerted the authorities.
The Northern Store in the community opened its doors at 3 a.m. on Sunday so the Rangers could get food for the truck’s occupants. A three-person Ranger team, led by Koostachin, set out on snowmobiles to reach the truck, with their journey made difficult by deep powder snow and heavy drifting from recent snowfalls.
The Rangers reached the truck around noon, freed it from the deep snow, fed its occupants, and sent them on their way to Shamattawa, which they reached.
“The Rangers responded very efficiently,” said Captain John McNeil, operations officer for the Canadian Rangers in northern Ontario. “Activities outside of their control initially hindered their movement but once they got going they covered a great deal of distance in a short period of time. They rescued the individuals, got them on their way, and redeployed back to Fort Severn smoothly and safely.
“This rescue re-emphasizes the fact that all our efforts in ground search and rescue are useful, and that the activities the Rangers do in ground search and rescue in support of the Ontario Provincial Police are worthwhile. The Rangers in Fort Severn did a good job.”
(Sergeant Peter Moon is the public affairs ranger for 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group.)
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