Six rescued from stranded SUVs on snowy Sumas Mountain


Sumas Mt. rescue

By Wendy McLellan, THE PROVINCE DECEMBER 29, 2015

A late afternoon of 4×4 driving on snowy Sumas Mountain ended with six people stranded for hours in freezing temperatures and an early-morning rescue Tuesday by local volunteers.

Lee Holeczek, search manager with Central Fraser Valley Search and Rescue, said a couple in their 20s drove a Jeep 4×4 up a logging road on Abbotsford’s Sumas Mountain in the late afternoon Monday, planning to play in the snow.

But just before they reached the top, their vehicle got stuck.

It was just after dark, and after several attempts to free the Jeep from the snow, the couple hiked to a spot where they could get cellphone reception and called friends to help.

Holeczek said four would-be rescuers in another 4×4 tried to reach the stranded vehicle, but got stuck 1.5 kilometres below the Jeep.

The four friends hiked the rest of the way and the group tried to pull the vehicle out of the snow, but it was stuck fast.

“They even had a winch, but it burned out,” Holeczek said.

“They all toughed it out for a while, but they realized they weren’t prepared to stay out overnight.”

At 2 a.m. the Abbotsford-based search and rescue team got the call to help the six friends, and 18 volunteers headed to Sumas Mountain in 4x4s with tire chains on snow tires. Mission’s SAR also sent out their all-terrain vehicle equipped with snow tracks.

“We were pretty sure they were on the logging road — we just had to get to the location,” Holeczek said.

The team made it to the first stuck vehicle at 3:30 a.m. and found three people inside. The 4×4 was blocking the road, so the SAR team strapped on snowshoes to hike up to the Jeep where three more people were hunkered down inside.

“They were cold, tired and hungry,” Holeczek said. “It was the first time they had experienced something like this. They were scared.”

The team used the all-terrain vehicle to get the shivering sextet down the logging road to the SAR vehicles, and the group was back at the base at 6 a.m. The two 4x4s were left behind and would need tow trucks to get off the mountain, he said.

BY Wendy McLellan, THE PROVINCE DECEMBER 29, 2015


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