British Columbia

Helicopter rescues hiker on Coquitlam mountain

A 27-year-old man was stranded overnight on a mountain north of Coquitlam before being rescued by a helicopter long line on Sunday.

Yashar Keramati intended to go out for an evening jog

A 27-year-old man was stranded overnight on a mountain north of Coquitlam before being rescued by a helicopter long line on Sunday.

Yashar Keramati, who lives in South Africa, arrived in B.C. just three weeks ago to visit his parents, who live just across the street from the start of Goat Trail, which leads to Munro Lake on Burke Mountain.

He went out for a run on the trail around 4 p.m. PT Saturday and was expected to return at 8 p.m., his parents said.

"He was not prepared," said Al Hurley, search manager for Coquitlam Search and Rescue. "He doesn't know the area, has nothing with him in the way of supplies. He left his wallet, cell phone, water, food, everything back home."

When Keramati did not return by 10 p.m., Coquitlam RCMP was called.

His father, Kamal Keramati, said his son is "in good shape" and simply wanted to go out for some exercise.

"He normally goes for runs or for walks. He runs 20, 30 kilometres. But he didn't know this trail and it's not the right place to run."

After a fruitless overnight search, RCMP contacted Coquitlam Search and Rescue.

Dramatic rescue

The 27-year-old hiker was reunited with his mother on Sunday after he was stranded overnight on a mountain north of Coquitlam. (CBC)

Keramati was spotted perched on a cliff above a waterfall around 8 a.m. Sunday, and shortly after 10 a.m., a North Shore Rescue helicopter rescued him with a long line.

"When we spotted him from the air, he had no shoes on and no shirt, which he was using to get our attention standing on about a 200-foot cliff on a very narrow ledge," said Hurley.

"Above him there's another 20, 30 feet to a ledge. It looks like he slid down these bushes to get to this ledge ,so very precarious. He's been out all night, probably not slept, lots of bugs out, so he's probably very fatigued. It's a real dicey spot."

On Sunday, Keramati's mother Zohreh was overjoyed.

"I'm so thankful ... and just so happy, so happy," she said. "I really appreciate the work, the people, the rescue team. I'll never forget that."

Keramati was brought to hospital, but doesn't appear to have any major injuries.

Hurley says people, whether they are heading out for a hike or simply a run or a walk, must leave home better prepared.

"If you're going into the mountains and you don’t know the areas, don’t go alone," he said. "Take the essentials ... leave a trip plan, know the definite routes that you’re taking." 

Long line controversy

Although Coquitlam Search and Rescue has purchased long line equipment and 13 members are trained in long line rescue procedures, Hurley says the team is unable to use the equipment because Transport Canada has yet to issue them the proper certification.

Hurley says the team has been waiting nearly a year, and the delay has prevented them from carrying out their own rescues.

Forced to rely on North Shore Rescue, the only team in B.C. that managed to receive certification,  Hurley worries there will come a time when the North Shore team is on another call and unable to assist in a critical rescue.

"Lives are at risk, team members and guys like this could easily slip off ledge," he said.

Hurley said long line equipment is often crucial when carrying out mountain rescues.

"Members hang onto a helicopter on a 150 to 200 foot rope, lowered into tight spots so then they can access the subjects, treat them, package them and fly them out and not have to have ground teams access them on really steep terrain," he said.