Missing dog walker Annette Poitras found 'alive and well' in Coquitlam, B.C., after massive search
'I just want to say ... hug your spouse tonight, hold on to them' says husband of woman missing 3 days
After a massive search spanning three days, rescuers have found dog walker Annette Poitras "alive and well" in a backcountry area of Coquitlam, B.C. and airlifted her and three dogs to safety.
Poitras, 56, was last seen Monday afternoon walking three dogs. She spent two nights in the rain-drenched wilderness before being found shortly after 11 a.m. PT on Wednesday by rescue crews.
At about 2:00 p.m., she was rescued from the steep terrain by a long-line helicopter rescue, and greeted with loud cheers by her family.
"I couldn't breathe," her husband, Marcel Poitras, told reporters less than an hour after hearing the good news. "It was just amazing."
"I told my daughter we'll wait until she gets home before we start giving her shit."
The missing woman was found by searchers in the Coquitlam watershed in an area off-limits to hikers and dog walkers, far north of the area where she was last seen, said Cpl. Michael McLaughlin of Coquitlam RCMP.
"She is alive, she is talking to rescuers, she is sore," he said.
Marcel Poitras was full of gratitude for the days of searching by crews from around B.C. in steep, wet terrain.
"I just want to say support your local search and rescue and hug your spouse tonight, whoever you're lying in bed with tonight, hold on to them," he said.
'I've had some dark days here'
It's not clear yet how Poitras got so far off the trail.
A search and rescue official told CBC News she took shelter under a log to stay as dry as possible, but seemed "chipper," with just an injury to her rib from slipping and falling on a log in the thick wilderness.
"It was extremely wet and slippery, with very thick underbrush. The [infared sensor] was out with the helicopter yesterday and didn't pick up any body heat, so that's how thick the brush is," said Al Hurley, search manager for Coquitlam Search and Rescue.
"It's a miracle to me that she seems in pretty good shape."
When she was found, Poitras was given dry clothes by rescuers and then long-lined out by helicopter, before being transported by ambulance to hospital.
Two more helicopter trips lifted out the dogs — first an older puggle named Bubba, then a border collie named Chloe and young boxer named Roxy — to be reunited with owners jubilant the animals had been rescued safely.
"I've had some dark days here. [But] I woke up this morning and I just knew it, I knew she was coming home today," said Marcel Poitras.
Close to 60 searchers led by Coquitlam Search and Rescue were combing new territory today in the "massive" backcountry of Eagle Mountain on day three of the search, RCMP said earlier.
RCMP all-terrain vehicles, two helicopters and expertly trained searchers from around the province were involved in the rescue effort.
Bubba came by to thank us!<br><br>89 Searchers from 19 SAR groups from Southwest BC, Vancouver Island & the Sunshine Coast. The <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BCSAR?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BCSAR</a> community is strong! <a href="https://t.co/IK0vaR9JK7">pic.twitter.com/IK0vaR9JK7</a>—@CoquitlamSAR
With files from Susana da Silva