A major search and rescue effort was launched Sunday after three people, including a six-year-old girl, were reported missing near Woss.
Willy John, who drives a logging truck in the area, had taken his daughter and granddaughter from Nanaimo and up Nimpkish Main logging road, southwest of Woss, for a weekend adventure but hadn’t been heard from since Thursday.
Family members became worried when Ashlee, Johns’ daughter, hadn’t checked in with her brother.
“Yeah, we hadn’t heard anything, so it was getting kind of scary and sketchy, so our minds were automatically going to the worst possible places, which is never fun,” said Trevor John.
“The last cell phone ping was somewhere in the Woss area, and that’s really the only starting point we had, so people familiar with the north island will appreciate just how many logging roads there are up here,” said Campbell River SAR Manager Dylan Baker.
Three helicopters, a plane and SAR ground teams from as far as Nanaimo began searching Sunday.
Waiting high on a mud-covered mountain road were John, his daughter Ashlee and his granddaughter, who were stranded in his pickup truck.
“Ah, we just got stuck in the mud, and then it snowed,” John told CHEK News.
“It was raining, and yeah, I tried to get unstuck a few times, we were just, we were stuck, so we hunkered down, stayed nice and warm. Turned the heater up.”
Being familiar with Woss area logging operations, he knew no one would be working on the weekend, so he stayed with his family.
Then at 4 a.m. Monday, he set out on foot down a logging road, walking 16 kilometres to the nearest logging camp.
“The foreman was just driving into camp, and I had a light, so he stopped, and I said, is there a bunch of guys looking for me? The guys said, ‘Oh, do you have a black Ford pickup?’ I said, ‘Yup.’ He said, ‘Get in,'” explained John.
They helped get his truck out, then drove back down the mountain to relieved family members.
John knows the backcountry, and CHEK News reported on another one of his survival experiences back in June 2021 when he fought off a cougar in Woss that had tried to kill his dog.
Surviving this time around was a little easier as they did have some snacks, but they would have run out today.