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Canadian Armed Forces assist Midway RCMP to rescue officer, prisoner in distress

A pair of rescuers converse with the RCMP vehicle and Comorant SAR helicopter in the background following the rescue of a suspect Tuesday evening near Midway. — RCMP photo

RCMP said a pair of Canadian Armed Forces search and rescue aircraft were dispatched, Tuesday night, from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron from 19 Wing Comox, to assist in the long line rescue of a front line RCMP officer and his prisoner who led the officer on a foot chase into a deep ravine.

RCMP said on December 1, 2020 shortly after 3 p.m., Midway RCMP responded to a report of a break and enter in progress to a property located in the 1600-block of Fish Lake Road.

The Bridesville property owner was observing the situation unfold with their surveillance cameras. Front line officers responded to the scene where they encountered five individuals seemingly fleeing the area.

One of those break and enter suspects fled on foot in an apparent effort to further avoid capture, while the remaining four were detained by police. The fleeing suspect jumped into a ravine, followed closely by a pursuing officer.

Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey spokesman for the BC RCMP in the Southeast District said the break-in suspect entered into the river multiple times before ultimately being located and arrested by the determined officer, states

“The arresting officer and his prisoner found themselves nearly 400-feet down the ravine, trapped and unable to climb back out, or be reached by any conventional means,”  Cpl. O’Donaghey  explained.

“To complicate matters the suspect was quickly becoming hypothermic, while the officer was dealing with exposure to the frigid temperatures.”

Cpl. O’Donaghey said additional police officers responded to the scene from neighboring jurisdictions including Osoyoos to assist.

However, Cpl. O’Donaghey adds they were unable to safely rescue their colleague or his prisoner.

Those officers were joined and supported by passerby’s who tossed warm clothing and supplies down to the officer to start a fire and keep warm.

“After exhausting all options to safely extract the officer and his prisoner, the BC RCMP called for urgent support from the Canadian Armed Forces who immediately dispatched both a Buffalo fixed wing SAR aircraft and a Cormorant SAR helicopter to the scene to assist with a medevac rescue,” Cpl. O’Donaghey said.

Cpl. O’Donaghey said at 9:20 p.m. the prisoner was airlifted out of the ravine by SAR Techs. The 47-year-old Bridesville man, was airlifted to a regional hospital for a full medical assessment and treatment for exposure related injuries.

The RCMP cruiser waits as the CAF Comorant SAR helicopter lands outside Midway. — RCMP photo

Cpl. O’Donaghey said at 10:15 p.m. the front line officer, who did not require any medical attention at the scene, was rescued from the ravine.

Cpl. O’Donaghey said a 44-year-old man, 45-year-old man, 35-year-old woman and a 51-year-old woman, all of the Bridesville area were released at the scene. Each face potential charges and are expected to appear in court at a later date.

Cpl. O’Donaghey said investigators have since determined that the 47-year-old Bridesville man, who fled from the responding officers, was wanted on several outstanding warrants for his arrest. He remains in police custody at this time and faces additional charges.

BC RCMP expresses its deepest thanks to all those members of the community who were directly involved in looking out for the safety and well-being of one of our front line officers and our client by providing them warm clothing and supplies to start a fire for warmth.

“We also would like to sincerely thank our Canadian Armed Forces partners for their valued support,” said C/Supt. Brad Haugli, District Commander of the RCMP Southeast District.