Lost sledder found safe

Central Okanagan Search and Rescue crews spent some of the last hours of 2017 scrambling to look for a snowmobiler who had become separated from her group at Little White Mountain.

With her cellphone battery dead, the woman tried to walk out of the woods, says COSAR president Ephraim Nowak.

Sixteen COSAR members were gearing up, and Vernon Search and Rescue's helicopter winch team was ready to take to the air before the search was called off. One of the snowmobilers had located the woman and brought her to an RCMP staging area at the Myra Canyon parking lot.

Nowak says it was another busy year for COSAR, which responded to 46 calls during the 2017.

"The extended flooding and fire season resulted in fewer SAR incidents, but our members spent more time supporting these community emergencies," he said.

Although the number of calls was down slightly from 52 last year, the Okanagan Lake flood and forest fires at Philpott Road and in Lake Country caused an increase in operational periods to 62, meaning deployments typically lasted longer. In total, COSAR members volunteered 2,202 task hours in 2017.

These included searches for lost skiers, snowboarders and hikers, evacuating injured cyclists from Myra Canyon and Crawford Trails as well as assisting other search and rescue teams in the Okanagan, Kootenays and Lower Mainland.

The group has 45 volunteers, but 13 new members-in-training will be ready for duty by summer.

COSAR is responsible for backcountry emergency services between Vernon, Summerland, Merritt and Rock Creek.

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