After an exhausting overnight search in the deep dense bush around Qualicum Bay, Search and rescue teams returned to home base smiling Sunday.
That’s because they were able to find George Sim alive.
The 57-year-old commercial fisherman had survived two nights alone in the wilderness.
“Very lucky,” said Incident Commander Ken Neden of Arrowsmith Search & Rescue.
“And for two cooler nights in the wilderness, he’s in reasonably good shape,” he said.
Sim’s daughter Katie Recalma was grateful for all the help her family received.
“Police, ambulance, firefighters, search and rescue,” said Katie Recalma.
“[We are] just so grateful for everyone that came out to try and look for him. For all the help.”
The Qualicum Bay grandfather had set out on walk after dinner along the Big Qualicum River Friday night but failed to return home. It sparked the first large scale search effort on Vancouver Island since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“We’re combing largely between Highway 19A and Highway 19,” said Nick Rivers of Arrowsmith Search and Rescue.
Family members combed too, and Sunday morning Joanne Recalma felt the need to get in her car and drive.
At 11 am Sunday, across Highway 19A, some 10 kilometres from where Sim disappeared, she found him walking out of the bush near Spider Lake.
“Like I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me,” said Sim’s relative Joanne Recalma.
“And then I said to my husband oh my God there’s George and yeah we were just very thankful,” she said.
Sim’s family estimates he walked more than 30 kilometres through back roads and gullies, to where he was ultimately found, without food for days.
“He was disoriented,” said Katie Recalma.
“And wasn’t feeling good and just ended up staying there and getting lost and trying to find an area,” she said.
“I think he had lots of water and he ended up making a fire,” she said.
Sim’s safe return home, brings a happy ending, when so many people needed one.