Man found safe after 24 hours in northern Quebec bush

A search involving police, firefighters, Canadian Rangers, family and community volunteers from Chisasibi, Que., ended on a happy note when the man was found safe.

More than 35 people involved in weekend search operation near Chisasibi, Que.

More than 35 people, including firefighters, police, Canadian Rangers and community volunteers were involved in the search for a young man in his early 20s after he took off into the bush Saturday near Chisasibi, Que. (submitted by Murray Rupert)

A search operation in the James Bay community of Chisasibi ended on a happy note Sunday, when a young resident was found safe and sound. 

Officials say a man in his early 20s was very intoxicated when he disappeared in the dense forest around 10 a.m. Saturday near Chisasibi, Que., which is located some 1,400 kilometres north of Montreal at the end of the James Bay Highway. 

CBC has chosen not to identify the man for privacy reasons.

"The area is pretty thick [forest] ... we were worried about wildlife, wolves or bears mostly, and that day the bugs were pretty bad," said Murray Rupert, Chisasibi's deputy fire chief.

"It's also a swampy area, so we were afraid that he might fall into water or pass out somewhere."

Chisasibi is located at the end of the James Bay Highway, about 1,400 kilometres north of Montreal. (Google)

Police and fire officials began searching almost immediately. Later in the day on Saturday, a call was put out for community volunteers to help in the search, according to Matthew Chiskamish, interim public safety officer for the community. 

A decision was also made to call in the Canadian Rangers. 

"I told them we needed to call in the Canadian Rangers as soon as possible because they are equipped to do search and rescue in the wilderness," said Chiskamish, adding at that point he still wasn't too worried, as it was still daylight. 

In total, more than 35 people, including police, firefighters, Canadian Rangers, family and community volunteers were involved in searching for the young man. They also used ATVs, including one equipped for use in the water, as well as two drones, one equipped with a thermal imaging camera.

By 9 p.m. and still with no sign of the young man, a decision was made to halt the ground search in the forest for safety reasons and efforts shifted to a door-to-door search in the community. 

"It was getting dark and there was less visibility, which means it could be more hazardous to [searchers]," said Rupert.

The young man was found the next morning around 8 a.m., just as searchers were preparing to head back into the bush near where he disappeared. He was taken to hospital, treated for multiple bug bites, and released a few hours later. 

"We were all relieved. We felt that everybody did their job and everything went smoothly," said Rupert. "We couldn't have asked for anything better."