An emotion packed reunion has brought together searchers and the 3-year-old boy they found lost in the wilderness near Union Bay.
Tasked with finding the toddler who had vanished with his glider bike in mid-August searchers say worst fears were secretly running through them as strong as the adrenaline until the tiny tike was found covered in blackberries he’d been eating 4 remarkable kilometres away.
They’ve not met since that August day when searchers say time stood still.
“Every hour that ticks by you begin to worry more and more,” says Paul Berry of Comox Valley Ground Search & Rescue. “Are you doing all the right things, do you have people in the right places.”
“You know every step could be this parent’s either worst nightmare or happiest day that they had been reunited with their child,” says Carly Trobridge.
“And that 30 second to a minute gap where the information came in that he was okay felt like an hour like it was very long, ” says Nick Rivers of Arrowsmith Search & Rescue.
“To find Lachlan alive was the absolute best feeling you could possibly imagine,” says Berry.
“Do you know they’re the search and rescue team yeah,” says Lachlan’s mom Heather McKenzie introducing him to the people who saved him.
“It’s a pretty extreme experience,” says McKenzie.
So in this moment packed with meaning outside the McKenzie family’s Union Bay home, comes a flood of memories about how their lives crossed paths on August 15th. When the little boy got lost in the woods of Vancouver Island and searchers poured through the night and next day to find him.
“This was the whole town and then other SAR teams from other towns,” says McKenzie.
By air, foot and all terrain vehicle 9 search teams made up of volunteers from all over Vancouver Island converged on the rugged wilderness around Union Bay.
Before the heart stopping call.
“That’s what you want to hear that’s what you do this for,” says Berry.
“And at that point all the emotions came,” says Lachlan’s dad Darius McKenzie.
Searchers had found the tiny boy with his glider bike. An amazing 4 kilometres away from his family home he’d toddled away from.
“And just that sense of relief just, ” exhales Craig Ferchuk of Comox Valley Ground Search & Rescue.
“Do you remember when you went on your bike ride?” searchers ask Lachlan. “All night long?” “Yes,” he replies.
“It was a pretty big, big ride.”
Found covered in the blackberries he’d been eating.
“Blackberries,” says 3-year-old Lachlan. “You were looking for blackberries?” asks Paul Berry. “Yes,” replies Lachlan. “And then they took me back home.
“To have Lachlan found alive was the absolute best feeling you could possibly imagine,” says Paul Berry.
“Were you scared?” he asked. “No,” Lachlan replies. “But I was scared when I was in the dark. ”
“And I was so encouraged about humanity I guess you could say when I found out they were volunteers,” says Heather McKenzie.
“And knowing what those parents must have been feeling I think was the best part,” says Trobridge.
Forging a bond between strangers that now forever links them. The day Lachlan McKenzie came home and triggered a a roar relief on Vancouver Island.