Louise Baxter in a photo shared while she was missing last summer from Jumbo pass. File photo

B.C. woman lost for three days on trail urges for search and rescue funding

East Kootenay volunteers searched 3 days last summer for Louise Baxter

In her first interview after spending three days lost on Jumbo Pass with her poodle Maverick, Louise Baxter praised the throngs of BC Search and Rescue volunteers who dropped everything in their personal and professional lives last August to find her and return her safely to her family.

“I was by myself not understanding all that was going on for me,” she said, adding that she remains awed by the scale of the search effort and the number of people who raced to help.

The mission involved more than 35 volunteers from eight search teams, three RCMP detachments, three helicopters, four search dogs and a drone.

The search to find Ms. Baxter occurred while BC’s Search and Rescue teams were funded through a three-year arrangement with the provincial government that provided the Columbia Valley Search and Rescue (CVSAR) with $80,000 annually. CVSAR search manager Steve Talsma said the provincial funding is running out, with the tap shutting off at the end of March.

He said the Valley’s Search and Rescue operation is “in an OK position to get through this year” but he is concerned about the future. A typical call takes CVSAR a few hours and runs from $3,000 to $5,000, but longer and more complex missions can run up to $100,000, he said. CVSAR also has costs to train volunteers and maintain equipment to allow volunteers to be effective in their roles.

READ MORE: Concerns rise as B.C. search and rescue funding set to expire

“We’ve had a good three-year run, and now we’re going to have some work ahead of us,” he said.

Both he and Ms. Baxter hope to see the provincial funding resuscitated.

“How do I feel about it?” Ms. Baxter asked. “At any moment it could be someone that you know that needs (to be rescued), especially in the kind of area that we live.”

Ms. Baxter knows how quickly fates can shift for those out enjoying the mountains.

She had only intended to leave her hiking group briefly to take Maverick to a lookout point. Then the weather changed, obscuring the path she had travelled.

“I was convinced I knew how to get back to the cabin, and so I was trying to find my way back there. But I was already totally lost. I was on the wrong side, the opposite side, of the mountain on the West Kootenay side, which I had no idea,” she said. “At first it was like ‘I can’t believe I got myself lost’ and then it was terrifying.”

To calm down, she prayed and repeated a mantra she learned in her yoga class as the days turned into nights and the nights turned back into days.

Hope also came from above when helicopters circled overhead, when she ended up on a road and when a vehicle rumbling in the distance drew close before the occupants welcomed her inside.

Ms. Baxter travelled from Cranbrook to share her appreciation in person at the Columbia Valley Search and Rescue annual general meeting on Wednesday, February 27th.

“I just wanted to really thank everyone for what you do,” she told the volunteers, adding that she is deeply grateful to everyone who gave up three days of their lives to help her keep hers.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Biker airlifted from Vernon mountain resort

22-year-old injured at SilverStar Mountain Resort

Inaugural KidSport Greater Vernon golf tourney raises $18,000

Event raises single largest fundraising amount for Greater Vernon KidSport

Report says Canadian communities responding to climate change

New research highlights state of local adaptation planning in Canada

Crash near Vernon elementary school investigated

RCMP officer watches driver hit concrete barrier and then fence at school

Chance of showers and thunderstorm for Okanagan-Shuswap-Similkameen

Mostly cloudy day for the Okanagan-Shuswap and Similkameen regions

Vernon hip hop artist NØX drops new single

Local talent also releases Okanagan-inspired video

Four-year-old boy assaulted at B.C. soccer game

It happened at a weekend tournament in Ashcroft

AquaHacking Challenge comes to Okanagan to help address water issues

Between 2015 and 2018, the program has resulted in 12 active startups with 75 per cent still active

Mudslides expected to keep Shuswap road closed for at least three days

Alternate route Celista-Blueberry Forest Service Road, accessible by four-by-four vehicles

Memorials set up to honour Antarctica explorer

In 1913, two memorials in Summerland honoured Naval Officer Robert Scott

Multiple crashes slow traffic on Coquihalla south of Kamloops

Drivers are expected to be stuck for up to 90 minutes

Top B.C. court upholds ruling that struck down indefinite solitary confinement

Feds had appealed ruling in case brought by B.C. Civil Liberties Association, John Howard Society

Trial dates set for three men accused of 2017 killing near Hope

Lawyers for the accused appeared in Kelowna at B.C. Supreme Court on Monday

Heroism medal for B.C. woman who tried to save wheelchair-bound man stuck on rail tracks

Julie Callaghan awarded Carnegie Medal from U.S.-based foundation for ‘extraordinary heroism’

Most Read