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Stranded teen snowmobiler commended by rescue crews for digging snow cave

Monday, January 18th 2021, 11:39 am - Teen who became separated from group did 'the right thing' to be found safely, SAR team says

Search and rescue crews near 100 Mile House, B.C., are commending the actions of a 17-year-old who dug a snow cave to stay warm and safe after getting lost snowmobiling.

The teen became separated from the three family members he was snowmobiling with in a popular designated area about an hour and half from 100 Mile House at around 4 p.m. PT on Saturday.

This is the snow cave dug by a 17-year-old snowmobiler on Saturday, which he used to stay warm and safe until South Cariboo Search and Rescue found him later in the evening. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue/Facebook/CBC) This is the snow cave dug by a 17-year-old snowmobiler on Saturday, which he used to stay warm and safe until South Cariboo Search and Rescue found him later in the evening. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue/Facebook)

He had driven his snowmobile down steep terrain but was unable to climb back out of the area to rejoin his family.

Val Severin, search manager with South Cariboo Search and Rescue, said what happened next contributed to the teen being safely found and reunited with his family.

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'HE DIDN'T PANIC'

"His choices definitely were quite mature," she said. "He didn't panic and lose track of the situation. He understood just the right thing to do."

After realizing he couldn't drive out of the area he was in, the teen, who search and rescue is not naming, parked his machine in an open and visible area, dug a snow cave and hunkered down with food and water to await rescue.

Severin said digging a deep pit in the snow was the right thing to do.

"His body heat would keep him warm and comfortable in there," she said. "He had food and water and was just set up for the night."

REUNITED WITH FAMILY WITHIN HOURS

His family connected with other snowmobilers in the area and did a limited search for the missing teen, but after not finding him within two hours, they used the GPS systems they had with them to connect with SAR and ask for help.

South Cariboo Search and Rescue volunteers were able to find the teen by about 10:30 p.m. and reunited him with his family at midnight.

"He was quite calm and very, very thankful," Severin said. "Very appreciative of everybody's efforts and he couldn't stop thanking us enough."

Servin said the incident is a good example of snowmobilers in the back country being prepared and having survival skills in case something goes wrong.

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This article, written by Chad Pawson, was originally published by CBC News.

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