British Columbia

2 lost snowmobilers credit swift rescue to being prepared and 'bunkering up'

Two British Columbians who were recently lost while snowmobiling learned first-hand how being prepared makes all the difference when a rescue is needed.

‘They did everything right,’ says Central Okanagan Search and Rescue manager

Central Okanagan Search and Rescue says it was able to search for the missing men within hours of them running into trouble, because they had left a plan with family. (Central Okanagan Search and Rescue )

Two British Columbians who were recently lost while snowmobiling learned first-hand how being prepared makes all the difference when a rescue is needed.

The snowmobilers and rescuers are sharing their story as an example of what to do when things go wrong in the backcountry.

"When [we] got stuck up in the bush, it was a total white out," said Chris Voelker, one of the two men who ran into trouble in the Okanagan on Thursday

"We just bunkered up and stayed put."

Central Okanagan Search and Rescue was called out Thursday evening to search for two lost snowmobilers (Central Okanagan Search and Rescue)

The pair had brought the necessary essentials to survive the wait, such as an emergency safety blanket, materials to start a fire, extra food, a flashlight and GPS.  

They had also left a trip plan behind before heading out.

"My wife phoned [for help], because we had a plan. Usually, I'm home right before dark," he said. 

When Voelker and his companion were several hours late, she reached out to the president of the Kelowna Snowmobile Club and filed a missing person report with the RCMP.

'Everything right'

Voelker's truck was found in the parking lot near the trailhead, confirming they were still out in the snow, and rescuers were able to ping their cellphone to get a location.

Kevin Birnie, manager with Central Okanagan Search and Rescue, described the rescue as "text book" because of how prepared the men were.

"They did everything right," he said.

"The biggest learning outcome is be prepared, plan the trip, make sure somebody knows that plan and ensure that you are equipped."

Two British Columbians who were recently lost while snowmobiling learned first-hand how being prepared makes all the difference when a rescue is needed. 7:02

With files from Daybreak South and Leah Shaw

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