Man rescued by helicopter after 200-foot fall into Trent River

Rescued after fall into river

A helicopter was called in to rescue a hiker who slipped on a trail Tuesday afternoon near Cumberland and fell an estimated 200 feet into the Trent River canyon, suffering critical injuries.

He was transported to hospital in Victoria after the helicopter was maneuvered to the canyon floor, said Paul Berry, search manager for Comox Valley Search and Rescue.

“Through some amazing flying, they were able to land the helicopter directly in the water,” said Berry, noting the aircraft was from Parksville-based Ascent Helicopters, which was providing air-ambulance service.

Comox Valley RCMP got the first call around 1:45 p.m. about the incident.

It was “a complex operation” to get to the man, with the Comox Valley RCMP Emergency Response Team and advanced life support paramedics also taking part, Berry said.

The first people into the canyon were two Emergency Response Team members who happened to be in the area and rappelled down to provide initial first-aid, said paramedic public-information officer Brian Twaites.

“It was just outstanding work by them,” he said.

Ambulance paramedics then took the lead, Berry said.

“They were able to get some of their staff down and we added additional personnel and equipment to assist them,” he said. “Paramedics, police and SAR were all lowered by rope.”

Some of the rescuers were able to get to the scene via a trail on the far side of the river, Berry said.

Comox RCMP Const. Monika Terragni said Emergency Response Team members undergo extensive training to handle emergency situations such as armed standoffs, “however, they also have specialized training in various rescue techniques, including rope rescue.”

Their training served them well in the challenging terrain along the river, she said.

Comox Valley Search and Rescue was back in action a few hours later after two climbers ran into difficulties on Mount Albert Edwards in Strathcona Park.

Berry said the climbers encountered problems on their way down the mountain and called for help about 7 p.m.

“They called with just enough daylight left to allow us to get them out,” he said. “They had summited earlier in the day and then conditions had changed and become very dangerous, so it was very hard to travel.”

Warming temperatures had begun melting the snow and they were sinking to “full-leg depth” when trying to get through it, Berry said.

“Then got into a slope that got into the shade and it was very slippery and dangerous.”

The climbers were also taken to safety by helicopter.

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