RCMP services dog finds B.C. woman missing near Cowichan Valley for 5 days

The family of Irene Paquet was prepared for the worst, and say it's a miracle that she's alive and recovering in hospital after getting lost in the B.C. woods — thanks to a police dog named Boomer.

Family says it's a miracle Irene Paquet, 67, survived days in woods, and adds she's 'doing better'

Irene Paquet, 67, is 'definitely doing better' after she was found by a police services dog, days after getting lost in the B.C. woods, her daughter says. (Celeste Paquet )

Irene Paquet's family was prepared for the worst, and said it's a miracle she's alive and recovering in hospital after getting lost in the B.C. woods — thanks to a police services dog named Boomer. 

The RCMP police dog and its handler found Paquet, 67, disoriented, weak and dehydrated about two kilometres from her vehicle in the woods near Copper Canyon, in Vancouver Island's Cowichan Valley.

"It's just been kind of surreal, this whole thing," said Paquet's daughter, Celeste Paquet. "Obviously we were anticipating a different outcome."

A motorcyclist found Paquet's car on a logging road four days after she went missing. (Celeste Paquet)

Her mother hadn't been seen or heard from since she left Cowichan Neighbourhood House on July 29, where she's a volunteer.

Family and police are still trying to piece together what happened to the woman between then and when Boomer and the dog's handler, Const. Clay Wurzinger, found her lying near an embankment on an abandoned logging road.  

Paquet says her mother, who suffers from various health issues, doesn't clearly remember what happened. 

She suspects her mom, who moved from Brampton, Ont., the year before to be closer to her grandchildren and still doesn't know her way around, likely got lost.

Car found in ditch

RCMP said a few days into her disappearance, a motorcyclist discovered the woman's car in a ditch about 40 kilometres west of Chemainus. 

Search and rescue teams were immediately dispatched, along with an RCMP helicopter, the police dog and its handler. 

Boomer, an RCMP services dog, and his handler, Const. Clay Wurzinger, found Paquet disoriented, weak and dehydrated two kilometres from her vehicle in the woods near Copper Canyon, in Vancouver Island's Cowichan Valley. (RCMP)

When the woman was found near the embankment, she was in "obvious discomfort and barely able to speak," police said.

Celeste Paquet said her mother had groceries in her car and may have sustained herself that way, and she's now "definitely doing better." 

"We're extremely amazed at her ability and strength. Now, we just have to look towards the future and help her recover," she said, adding she is grateful to those who helped find her mother. 

With files from Belle Puri