On Jan. 16 at 6:15 p.m., the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) were alerted to a teenage snowmobiler, who had gotten separated from his family and friends. The group realized the boy was missing when the teen did not return to the parking lot where everyone else had gathered, according to officials.
Rescuers from the South Cariboo Search and Rescue (SAR) were mobilized and searched the area of Spanish Lake North East of Canim Lake area. More than four hours later, SAR crews located the teen, at approximately 10:34 p.m. He was reported to have been in good condition before he was transported off the mountain, Cpl. Madonna Saunderson of the RCMP said in a statement.
“This young man did everything right after things went wrong,” said the South Cariboo Search and Rescue in a Facebook post.
According to the post, the teen, whose name has not been revealed, had gotten separated from his group and after multiple failed attempts to get out of the area, he parked his sled in an open area and went over to another area to build a snow cave to spend the night.
The teen had packed enough water and food to hunker down for the night, the New York Post reported.
“This young man made our task a little less difficult by staying in place and having some backcountry winter survival knowledge,” the South Cariboo SAR said. “By doing this, it kept this task as a search for one person and not multiple. The actions of everyone involved was spot on for leading to a successful outcome."
The search and rescue team commended the youngster and encouraged all backcountry enthusiasts to be prepared for similar and unexpected situations.
Val Severin, a SCSR team leader, told the Vancouver Sun that the terrain is filled with creeks and tree wells, and that several people have died in the area in recent weeks, including a 21-year-old who went snowshoeing in the Vancouver-area mountains.
Severin said the 17-year-old boy was emotional when the rescue crew arrived. “He was very, very thankful,” he said. “You could tell he was overwhelmed.”
Now a photo of the makeshift snow fort the teen built has gone viral on social media, with nearly 3,000 likes, 2,000 shares and lots of folks chiming in and hailing the young man him for his bravery.
“Good thinking by the young man. I, at 17, wouldn’t have done that,” said one person.
“Great job SAR! Whoever taught this young man deserves a medal! Always be prepared for the worst,” said another.
“Happy Endings,” hailed another.