Chopper extricates man and son after injury in snow near Comox Lake

CHEK

A trip for a man and his son into the backcountry near Comox Lake turned into a rescue Wednesday afternoon.

A helicopter later landed at the Courtenay Airpark carrying the man, who suffered injuries, and his son. The father had a fractured leg and was transferred to a waiting ambulance.

“We had a 44-year-old gentleman who was out on Comox Lake Main road about 11 kilometres with his son and slipped on some ice,” said Comox Valley Search Manager Stephan Peters.

Comox Valley Search and Rescue was paged out but couldn’t get to the pair because of the treacherous conditions.

“Talking to the patient, he had cell service. It was a pure sheet of ice. We sent one team with trucks and snowmobiles,” recalled Peters.

“That ended up being a no-go, so we had a helicopter on standby and put a team in the helicopter, and they were basically able to land about 200 metres from the patient,” he added.

“They then had to set up a short rope system to get him up a hill to the machine, but once they got him up on the hill, they were able to fly him out.”

The man was transferred by ground ambulance to hospital for treatment.

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Snowstorm keeps crews busy

The storm responsible had barged into the Comox Valley early Wednesday.

When the snowfall had tapered off to flurries by midday, 9 cm had accumulated at the Comox Valley Airport, and around 15 cm fell in other parts of the Valley, such as Cumberland.

Schools were closed across the district, as were North Island College campuses in Courtenay, Campbell River and Port Alberni.

Public works crews were busy cleaning streets and sidewalks while private contractors were out early, clearing parking lots and walkways.

“I’ve been at the mall since basically 3:30 this morning,” said Josh Desjardins of Edgett Excavating.

“We’ve got lots of contracts for snow removal, so we just keep going,” added fellow shoveler Geordie Schick.

The season’s first big snowfall was also the season’s first big rush for snow essentials at retailers like Canadian Tire.

“My Snow Joe just quit this morning. I got 15 feet, and it quit. So I thought, well, I have to get another one,” said Laurie Pendergast.

“I’m always amazed at how many people need a snow shovel,” said Courtenay Canadian Tire store manager Christy Woods. “Like, where’d the one go from last year? But it works for us, right?”

By late morning Wednesday, the snow had stopped falling, and roads were getting much better for travel.

“We’ve been out all night just cycling the main routes and trying to keep the snow off of those, and then as it’s abated today, we’re working on the side roads,” said Mainroad North Island manager Chris Cowley.

The sun broke out Wednesday afternoon, warming temperatures above freezing, but Cowley is warning drivers to watch for icy roads as temperatures dip below freezing again at night.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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