Central Okanagan Search and Rescue had one of its busiest years ever in 2017. - Image: Royce Sihlis Photography

Snowmobiler safe after scary New Year’s Eve

Central Okanagan Search and Rescue's final call of 2017 was at Little White east of Kelowna

A snowmobiler was found safe in the Little White area after becoming separated from her group last night.

Central Okanagan Search and Rescue (COSAR) was mobilizing for a search yesterday evening when one of the woman’s fellow snowmobilers found her.

The woman had become separated from her group at Little White and, with her cell phone dead, had decided to walk out of the area.

Sixteen COSAR members were gearing up and Vernon Search and Rescue’s helicopter winch team was ready to take to the air before the search was called off. One of the subject’s fellow snowmobilers found her and brought her to the RCMP staging area at the Myra Canyon parking lot.

It was the final call of the year for COSAR who went out on 46 calls during the year.

“This was another record-setting year for our team,” said COSAR President Ephraim Nowak. “The extended flooding and fire season resulted in fewer search and rescue incidents, but our members spent more time supporting these community emergencies.”

Although the number of calls was down slightly from 52 last year, the Okanagan Lake flood and forest fires at Philpott Road and in Lake Country caused an increase in operational periods to 62, meaning deployments typically lasted longer. In total, COSAR members volunteered 2,202 task hours in 2017.

Tasks included searches for lost skiers, snowboarders, and hikers, evacuating injured cyclists from Myra Canyon and Crawford trails and assisting other search and rescue teams in the Okanagan, Kootenays and Lower Mainland.

The search and rescue group currently has 45 volunteers, but has been recruiting to meet increasing demand. Thirteen new members-in-training will be ready for active duty by summer 2018.

Central Okanagan Search and Rescue, originally established in 1954, is the oldest SAR group of its kind in BC. They are responsible for backcountry emergency services between Vernon, Summerland, Merritt and Rock Creek.

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