Search and rescue crews say the 33-year-old Vancouver snowboarder who was rescued Tuesday night after spending more than 48 hours on a snowy mountain does not even appear to have suffered hypothermia.
Authorities say Sebastien Boucher’s burly physique must have helped him survive the elements since getting lost out of bounds on Cypress Mountain Sunday morning, and that the snowboarder told them he hasn’t even eaten since.
Boucher’s stepfather Yvan Simoneau told CTV News his friends have a nickname for him: “Rambo.”
He was rescued at around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday with help from a military helicopter from CFB Comox, which lowered a winch roughly 400 feet down into a deep gulley where Boucher was stranded.
Just after the air rescue, weather conditions worsened and the helicopter was forced to take him to the Vancouver International Airport, where an ambulance was waiting to take him to hospital.
Witnesses say he walked on his own from the chopper to the ambulance.
Boucher’s mother and stepfather flew in from Ottawa Tuesday and spent an emotional day at the base of the search operation awaiting news of his fate.
They described the news of his discovery as “the best Christmas present” they’d ever received.
“Those guys, those rescue people, thank God. They were angels. They were the best people in the world,” his mother Micheline Simoneau told CTV News.
Boucher was spotted on the dark, snowy mountainside shortly before 6 p.m. by an RCMP helicopter quipped with infrared and heat-seeking technology.
“He was waving madly when we first saw him,” said North Shore Rescue search manager Bruce Moffat. “We know he’s breathing, he’s yelling a lot, he’s jumping around. That’s a good sign.”
Search and rescue members, who began to fear the worst after the sun set Monday night, were given a glimmer of hope at around 4 p.m. when they found fresh tracks in the snow.
With a storm forecast for Tuesday night, crews put all available resources into one more push to find the snowboarder before it was too late.
Prior to his discovery, authorities had no qualms expressing their frustration at Boucher, whom they said must have passed by fencing and posted warning signs before losing his way in the Montizambert Creek area Sunday.
North Shore Rescue team leader Tim Jones said his actions not only put his life in danger, they put rescue crews’ lives at risk as well.