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Vernon  

'I was terrified'

Alanna Kelly

UPDATE:12:15 p.m.

A 35-year-old Vernon man is lucky to be alive after breaking his left femur and dislocating his shoulder during a snowmobiling collision near Lumby.

Vernon search and rescue team and their winch helicopter team responded to the Park Mountain around noon, after the man’s friends sent out an SOS signal.

“I got in a random head-on with my buddies friend who came out with us first day ever,” said Gerry Mitchell. “He basically landed on me.”

Mitchell said he has spent the better part of his life in the mountains and knew instantly his injuries were serious.

“I know how bad that situation is,” he said. “I freaked out. It wasn’t even the pain, it was oh my god I may die.”

He sat there in the snow, not able to put on more layers, for over an hour and half. Mitchell braced himself for a three hour wait, knowing how long it can take rescue crews to find people.

“Let me tell you it was hell on earth, I was terrified and didn’t want to die,” he said. “The thought was in my head… this might be it."

Crews located Mitchell and flew him to Kelowna General Airport where he was taken in for surgery at 8 p.m.

“It all went about as good as it could have from what I’ve been told. It was a clean break, it didn’t shatter."

Mitchell said every snowmobiler always needs to carry an inReach handheld GPS, because it could save your life.

He thanks the Vernon Search and Rescue team for being as fast as they were and comforting him.

“Pretty bad injuries, but I know how lucky I am and I am just happy to be here."

- with files from Alanna Kelly and Josh Winquist 


UPDATE: 9:45 a.m.

A man who is believed to be the victim posted on social media saying “I am the very grateful rider who you helped. Thank you so much to all who helped me and for getting the heli to me in good time!”

The man said he just had surgery Wednesday night and "I am doing as ok as I can be."


ORIGINAL: 7:14 a.m. 

The Vernon Search and Rescue Helicopter-Winch Team were called into action yesterday to save a seriously injured snowmobiler from the mountains northeast of Lumby.

The details were posted on the groups Facebook page. 

The post states that conditions were good and there was a lot of fresh snow. 

The man was with friends in the Park/Nelson mountain area when he was injured. His friends sent out an SOS signal on a GPS device which alerted RCMP which in turn contacted VSAR.

"Snowmobile teams were deployed, and Air Rescue One, (the call sign for VSAR’s Heli-Winch Team) was also dispatched directly to the location."

 The Heli-Winch team was able to quickly find the man and quickly get him aboard the aircraft.

The post states that due to the severity of the injuries, the decision was made to transport via helicopter directly to Kelowna General Hospital where the patient was handed off to BCAS personnel."

"This is a fortunate example of how beneficial it can be to have an emergency GPS location device, such as an InReach or SPOT. The quick thinking of the subject’s friends in deploying the satellite device potentially saved hours of search time and contributed to a quick response, along with the subsequent rescue."



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