Searchers use cellphone GPS to track down missing canoeists
The two Winnipeggers spent multiple hours lost in the marsh. (file image)
Published Thursday, June 14, 2012 11:31AM CST
Last Updated Thursday, June 14, 2012 5:47PM CST
Two canoeists spent hours lost in marshland before being located thanks to the work of multiple search crews who made use of the GPS coordinates from the men's cellphone.
Two 28-year-old Winnipeg men went out for an evening canoe ride around 7 p.m. Wednesday near Breezy Bend. After floating into the opening of Lake Winnipeg, the men became disoriented and lost, RCMP said.
Their canoe tipped several times, but they eventually made it to land, where they called RCMP with their cellphones just before midnight.
The RCMP communications operator stayed on the line with the men for nearly three hours.
"They were very cold and a little upset because they weren't sure of their surroundings (and) what was going to happen to them so she reassured them," said Heather Lewis, communications centre manager.
RCMP used GPS coordinates from the men's cellphone provider and 911 to triangulate their location.
"The problems were to get into that area and to find an appropriate (way) and operators that could get into that area safely," said Sgt. Rob Karpish, RCMP search and rescue coordinator.
A Zodiac boat and multiple fire and rescue crews were called to help find the men, while another RCMP officer kept the men on the phone until rescuers could locate them.
RCMP lost contact with the pair around 2:30 a.m. when their cellphones died, but about an hour later the pair were found near the Netley Creek marsh area east of Petersfield and brought back shore. The men were distressed, wet and mosquito bitten but otherwise fine, RCMP said.
RCMP credit the cellphone call and the coordination between numerous agencies with the pair's rescue.
Alongside RCMP, the Manitoba Office of the Fire Commissioner, Search and Rescue Manitoba and multiple area fire departments, emergency services and water-rescue teams worked to locate the men.
Officials advise people to bring with them basic items such as a map and compass when going out onto waterways. They also suggest having a GPS device and telling others where you are going and when you're slated to return.
RCMP also advised people to stay put if they lose their way.
"If you get lost, if it's in the bush, we say hug a tree. Stay put and you'll be found," said Karpish.
- with a report from CTV's Stacey Ashley