British Columbia

'Best New Year's Eve': 2 Vernon boys rescued from gully after braving –18 C weather

'These two children were absolute troopers,' rescuer says

January 02, 2018

Vernon Search and Rescue found the boys using a technique called a sound sweep. (Vernon SAR)
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Two Vernon brothers are home safe after spending several freezing hours stuck down a gully in the forest on New Year's Eve.

The boys, aged five and seven, set out into the woods behind their house to find marshmallow-roasting sticks, according to search and rescue workers.


When the children spotted a deer in the woods, they tried to tail it and soon found themselves lost. They initially followed snowmobile tracks, but veered off course and found themselves in a gully 150 metres below the trail in waist-deep snow.

The boys' parents called RCMP when they failed to return home, and Vernon Search and Rescue, ambulance and firefighters were deployed to the area.

"Most people when they're lost, generally they go downhill. And quite often it gets them into trouble — things get steeper, the cold air goes downhill, and that's what those two boys had done," said Trevor Honigman, a ground search team leader with Vernon SAR.

'We knew time was critical'

"It was dark out, it was –18 in that area; that certainly gave an increased sense of urgency for search teams and crews. We knew time was critical," said Honigman.

The team found the boys using a technique called a "sound sweep." Teams deployed to different parts of the forest, powered down their equipment, then blew their whistles and called the children's names.

Then they heard the boys yelling for help. 

Members of Vernon SAR used snowmobiles to comb through the dark, snowy forest. (Vernon SAR)

"We could hear the boys calling out," said Honigman.

"It was a great thing to be able to tell the family that we had found the kids and we were going to get them."

The boys were treated for hypothermia, having spent several hours in boots full of snow. 

"These two children were absolute troopers, they were in great spirits, they were helping out as much as they could," said Honigman.

"People were high-fiving, hugging each other, everybody was so excited. It was the best New Year's Eve party you could possibly imagine."

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