N.W.T. RCMP locate missing snowmobiler near Edzo

Peter Modeste, 65, says his machine got stuck in overflow at the end of Marion Lake on the way to Gameti.

Peter Modeste's machine got stuck in overflow on way to Gameti

RCMP found a missing Yellowknife snowmobiler north of Edzo, N.W.T. Thursday night after he was reported overdue by people in Gameti.

Police say the 65-year-old man left Yellowknife at around 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday, heading for Gameti.

Peter Modeste was travelling alone by Ski-Doo when his machine got stuck in overflow at the end of Marion Lake.

Modeste says he saw the overflow when he got to the north end of Marion Lake but the surface was frozen — it was 6 a.m. — and there were snowmobile tracks through it. So he decided to drive through.

"My ski got caught under the ice," he said. "It was hard on the Ski-Doo trying to break through that ice. My Ski-Doo track started to spin."

On his own, the 65-year-old could not free his snowmobile from the water, slush and ice. That evening, he saw some snowmobilers and tried to signal them with his flashlight.

"I thought that maybe they're coming my way, maybe they were using the trail that I was on, but they were on the trail to Whati, which is quite a ways away, so they had no chance of seeing my flashlight."

The next day he started to walk back to Behchoko, some 30 kilometres away.

"After reaching halfway there, I was getting really, really tired," he said. "My body was OK, but wearing gumboots, it's hard to walk a long distance with gumboots, so my feet were getting sore."

When he had failed to arrive in Gameti, he was reported overdue to the Behchoko RCMP Thursday morning.

Police chartered a helicopter to aid the search, and an officer aboard spotted him making his way back on foot towards Edzo. 

RCMP say this was the third search and rescue in the last week and remind people to be aware of deteriorating ice conditions. Police also recommend carrying a satellite phone or SPOT device. 

Modeste says he took a lot of lessons from the experience, including making sure he travels with a buddy this time of year when it's easier to get stuck, and more difficult to get unstuck.