Mount Benson Regional Park. Credit: Regional District of Nanaimo

A 69-year-old man has died collapsing while hiking on Mount Benson last Saturday.

At around 11 a.m., Nanaimo Search and Rescue received a report of a hiker on Mount Benson who was in medical distress. Nanaimo RCMP said the man was hiking along the Witchcraft Lake Regional Trail with some friends when he collapsed.

The friends started CPR immediately and some passing hikers stopped to assist with first aid. Police said 911 was called a numbered trail marker was provided to the search and rescue team could identify where the man was.

Nanaimo Search and Rescue, the BC Ambulance Service and RCMP went to the area. Police said the portion of the trail where the man had collapsed was steep with many trees, so a helicopter could not be used. Search and rescue crews hiked to the area by foot and a number of hikers at the trailhead helped to carry medical equipment and a stretcher up the trail.

Police said the man did not survive. They have not released the man’s name. The B.C. Coroner’s Service is investigating the man’s death and foul play is not suspected.

While the search and rescue team was dealing with the man, a second group contacted them at around 1:45 p.m. about a man who had a severe leg cramp and could not walk down the mountain’s steep trails on his own. A crew found the man near an old logging road and he was taken down the mountain in an off-road vehicle.

Nanaimo Search and Rescue had 19 members on the mountain from shortly after 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. as they dealt with the two incidents.

“Mount Benson is a popular hiking location, however, a number of the trails are rugged and steep. Outdoor enthusiasts should be well prepared for adverse weather and the challenge of backcountry travel. The Nanaimo RCMP would like to thank Nanaimo Search and Rescue for their dedication and the hikers who assisted with these incidents,” Const. Derek Balderston of the Nanaimo RCMP said in a release.

Alexa Huffman