A member of a rescue team has died and another is in critical condition after their snowmobile apparently broke down in the frigid wilderness during a search for a missing person near the Saskatchewan-Manitoba boundary.
The two men were part of the Lac Brochet Search and Rescue group that went looking for the missing man on Sunday, said RCMP Sgt. Craig Cleary.
He was found by Wollaston Lake Search and Rescue, but Cleary said the two rescuers from Lac Brochet didn't return.
It appears they spent two days in the wilderness of northwestern Manitoba, where temperatures hovered below -20 C. By the time they were found by Mounties, Cleary said one 47-year-old rescuer was dead and his 40-year-old fellow ranger was in critical condition.
"There was some indication that the snowmobile was experiencing some mechanical issues," Cleary said. "There is no doubt in my mind that the elements ... did definitely factor into how things turned out, unfortunately."
The surviving ranger was taken to a Winnipeg hospital, while an autopsy will be performed to determine exactly how the other ranger died. Foul play is not suspected, Cleary said.
The Mounties aren't naming the dead rescuer, pending notification of his family.
The pair were part of a formal search and rescue group that conducts missions in remote areas, Cleary said. There are roughly 1,750 such trained rangers across the country.
Still, he said there are risks for anyone involved in a search-and-rescue mission.
"There are always ... those chances that, while you are trying to provide assistance to somebody else, you yourself could unfortunately be facing a similar situation as these two individuals did on their rescue mission."