A false report about an injured parachutist last weekend prompted an emergency response near Port Alberni.
Just before 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 30, Port Alberni RCMP responded to a report that a red distress flare had been observed in the sky near the Beaufort Mountain Range.
According to Brad Falkenberg, search manager with the Alberni Valley Search and Rescue team, the AVRS had also received a call about an injured parachutist in the same mountain range.
“Some local witnesses had spotted a hanglider that had possibly crash-landed…in a logging slash,” he explained. “We got tasked to go and check it out.”
In a joint effort between the AVRS, RCMP, BC Ambulance Service and Cherry Creek Volunteer Fire Department, a search was conducted. The AVRS team activated a search on foot and using ATVs, but were not able to activate an air search as the sky was growing dark. Extensive patrols were conducted along the tree line behind McLean Mill and towards the Alberni Valley Regional Airport.
RCMP also made inquiries with area residents. One resident had observed three parachutists walking out of the Log Train Trail near McLean Mill around 7 p.m., Port Alberni RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Amelia Hayden said. The resident had spoken with the jumpers, who stated that they were all well and accounted for.
The three individuals were located at around 9:30 p.m. Two of them had been paragliding in the area and had landed safely. According to RCMP, they confirmed that they were not in distress and did not see anyone else in the area.
“They had all walked out of there on their own and are now safely back on Salt Spring Island,” added Falkenberg.
With no further reports or sightings of flares or other signs of distress, the search was called off.