Fort Hope couple rescued by Ontario Canadian Rangers

Fort Hope couple enjoying pleasure trip rescued by Ontario Canadian Rangers

By Master Corporal Ranger Chris Vernon

A man and a woman from the First Nation community of Fort Hope were rescued by four members of the 3Rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (3CRPG) after being reported overdue by family members. They were on the land for approximately 10 days hunting and fishing while travelling between their community and Aroland First Nation at the time of their distress.

Four Canadian Rangers from the First Nation community of Long Lake 58 were activated on April 8th to conduct a ground search-and-rescue for the pair, and according to 3CRPG Long Lake 58 Patrol Sgt. Duane Wesley the search began just after midnight April 9th.

“One Ranger stayed in Long Lake in the command post to direct and manage the search. Three Rangers, including myself, organized and began the search around midnight,” said Sergeant Maurice.

After an Ontario Provincial Police- (OPP) organized civilian aircraft flyover spotted their writing in the snow and the couple waving their arms, the search team was activated. They quickly headed out in two pickup trucks towing snowmobiles for the Masterson Lake area, a remote area more than 300 km north-east of Thunder Bay where the couple was suspected of taking shelter.

“They (couple) have been using that area for years and use it to travel south. They were enjoying being out on the land doing some hunting and fishing,” said Sergeant Maurice.

However, as temperatures rose to record-setting highs, the ground became wet and slushy causing mobility issues for the couple’s snowmobiles. Ultimately burning more fuel than they had available, leaving them stranded in a remote/isolated area and unable to continue to their destination.

According to Sergeant Maurice, the couple decided to shelter in place and make a distress call to the OPP for rescue. However, the OPP were already tasked with a search-and-rescue and requested that Canadian Rangers conduct the search.

“The couple had an (outfitter’s tent) in that location that they use for shelter. We were able to use satellite map images to locate the tent,” said Sergeant Maurice.

When the search team arrived at an unmaintained single-track logging road that they suspected led to the couple, they decided to continue the search on snowmobiles.

“We found them around 2:30 a.m. They were fine. They had a gun and were also fishing for food. Just not enough gas,” said Sergeant Maurice.

The couple didn’t require medical attention, however, were taken to the community of Nakina as requested by them.

Fort Hope couple enjoying pleasure trip rescued by Ontario Canadian Rangers

“Logistically, especially in the winter there can be delays, and these delays can all too often result in life & limb situations. Therefore, it’s important to take these kinds of situations seriously. Rangers are an effective community resource for this. Once on the ground, our strength is that we are highly efficient, and we execute our tasks effectively, doing more with less.” said Lieutenant-Colonel Shane McArthur, 3CRPG’s Commanding Officer.

Last year, Ontario Canadian Rangers participated in more than 21 ground search-and-rescue missions, rescuing 31 people, including two stranded truckers on an ice road, an injured Attawapiskat First Nation snowmobiler, and two young hunters whose all-terrain vehicles broke down, leaving them stranded about 100 kilometres away from their communities.

Canadian Rangers, members of the Army’s Primary Reserve Force, conduct surveillance in Canada’s remote areas, sovereignty patrols, search-and-rescue, disaster relief, and training of other armed forces personnel with survival skills.

3CRPG is headquartered at Canadian Forces Base Borden, near Barrie, Ont.

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