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'Be cautious,' hikers urged, after Coquitlam volunteers hunt for four missing people in one weekend

Mountain trails still covered in snow; Coquitlam search and rescue volunteers recommend trip planning before heading out after they completed four urgent searches last weekend in Coquitlam, Port Moody, Pitt Meadows, New Westminster and on Salt Spring Island

Hikers are encouraged to prepare carefully for treks into the mountains and lakes around Port Moody and Coquitlam this May long weekend as many trails are still plugged with snow and water is not yet at summer temperatures.

The warning comes as weather is expected to be warm and sunny on Saturday (May 22) but turn to showers later in the weekend, resulting in potentially treacherous conditions.

Meanwhile, members of Coquitlam Search and Rescue (CQSAR) are still recovering from four searches this past weekend, including the tragic hunt for missing UBC professor Sinikka Elliott, who was found deceased on Salt Spring Island.

The searches prove that anything can happen, said search manager Bob Heatherington.

On Saturday (May 15), a woman was rescued from Eagle Mountain when she fell off her mountain bike and dislocated her shoulder. 

“She looked to be in pain,” acknowledged Heatherington, who said the 30-year-old mountain biker was found quickly and transported to a waiting ambulance, thanks to searchers who used e-bikes to reach her at the junction of the Manhandler and Three Little Pigs trails.

MISSING ELDERLY MAN FOUND IN BUSHES NEAR HIGHWAY 1

On Sunday (May 16), a team member assisted Ridge Meadows searchers in locating a hunter who had gone missing from his party near Alvin in an isolated area of the Pitt River.

He had fallen into the river and was eventually washed downstream until he was rescued by boaters.

Heatherington said the man should “buy a lottery ticket” because he was lucky to have been rescued in what is a treacherous stretch of river.

“You know it’s going be cold, you know there’s going be rocks, strainers (natural obstructions), logs and all kinds of things that are gong to be swept away,” said Heatherington, who said people should be extra cautious around water this weekend.

Heatherington said searchers also spent several hours Sunday night looking for a missing 86-year-old man who was eventually located Monday (May 17) by RCMP, who found him in some bushes off the side of Highway 1 in Coquitlam.

Assisting in the search were police officers from Coquitlam, New Westminster and Metro Vancouver transit, along with police dogs and Air One.

Heatherington said everyone was worried about the elderly man, who had left the family vehicle while shopping at Princess Auto in Coquitlam.

50 VOLUNTEER SEARCH AND RESCUE MEMBERS ON STAND BY FOR MAY LONG WEEKEND

The family has also come forward and thanked the community.

“We were totally relieved when we got the call from the police that he had been found,” Heatherington said.

This weekend, as many as 50 Coquitlam Search and Rescue volunteers will be on stand by and Heatherington expects their services will be necessary.

But he hopes people will do thorough research, prepare and leave a trip plan with a responsible person before heading out into the back country; one website he recommends is Adventure Smart.

For more information about Coquitlam Search and Rescue, visit here.

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