Jennifer Johnson

Jennifer Johnson

Update: Volunteers find missing hiker near Nanaimo’s Ammonite Falls

NANAIMO – Search and rescue technicians locate 20-year-old man who got separated from hiking group on weekend.

Search and rescue technicians have found a 20-year-old man who went missing Saturday near Nanaimo’s Ammonite Falls.

Spencer Hunt was found shortly before 11:30 a.m. Monday in a ravine along Benson Creek about 2.5 kilometres from where he became separated from a group of people with whom he’d been hiking.

Neil Brewer, search manager with Kent Harrison Search and Rescue Team Society out of Agassiz, said Hunt was spotted by a helicopter equipped with a forward-looking infrared camera system.

“They were doing a search, mainly on the outer areas, but on their way back in they saw someone waving at them,” Brewer said.

The helicopter guided a group of searchers operating quads nearby who, after positively identifying Hunt, walked him out to the helicopter, which flew him to a landing zone near East Wellington from where he was taken to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.

Brewer said, to the best of his knowledge, Hunt was tired, cold and hungry, but not injured after spending two nights outdoors.

According to Nanaimo RCMP, the police, with help from search and rescue volunteers from Nanaimo and Port Alberni, began searching the area near Ammonite Falls Saturday evening, after Hunt did not return from a hike with friends that afternoon.

Police said Hunt was part of a group that set off for Ammonite Falls at about 2 p.m. He became separated from the group, which called Nanaimo RCMP at 5 p.m. when he did not return to the parked vehicle. Police contacted Nanaimo Search and Rescue and Port Alberni Search and Rescue, with the search starting at about 6:20 p.m. A Police Services Dog also participated in the search but had no success.

The search was called off at about 4 a.m. Sunday morning and resumed at dawn the same day. Searchers were back again Monday morning.

“We have numerous search and rescue resources in place and they are continuing with their search,” Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman, said Monday morning.

The search remained focused on the Ammonite Falls area.

“As of yesterday we had 80 search and rescue personnel from Nanaimo, Port Alberni, all the way down to Saanich,” O’Brien said. “I know they were looking at [search] continuity so we’re trying to bring in additional resources for today because these people are volunteers.”

Hunt’s family members had gathered near the search operation command post set up in the main parking lot at Creekside Place.

“It’s a good day. I want to celebrate … I haven’t seen him yet. I’ve seen a recording of him getting out of the helicopter and he is walking and he doesn’t look like he’s been in the woods for three days that’s for sure,” said Jennifer Johnson, Hunt’s sister.

Police are reminding hikers to dress accordingly and pack sufficient supplies with them, including a charged cell phone and if available, a GPS unit.

A second search took place Saturday near Neck Point, off Hammond Bay Road, for an overdue 60-year-old male. The man was found by a passerby Sunday morning near St. Phillips church on Lantzville Road. Paramedics transported him to hospital and his family has been notified.