Turr hunters rescued by helicopter during narrow timeframe

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A Gander search and rescue team operated within a narrow timeframe late Saturday night to rescue three turr hunters stuck for several hours in slob ice in an open boat off Indian Bay.

Winds in the area on Saturday were 50-60 km/h, waves up to 10 metres high, and heavy snow resulted in poor visibility at the time of the rescue, with conditions steadily getting worse.

The Cormorant helicopter was deployed from Gander at 10:39 p.m. and arrived in the vicinity of the boaters by 11:55 p.m. About 40 minutes later the three boaters had been hoisted to safety and were flown to James Paton Memorial Hospital in Gander for assessment. All three of the men were conscious when rescued.

 RCMP in New Wes Valley were notified about 6 p.m. Saturday three boaters from Indian Bay and Centerville — two brothers and brother-in-law — were stuck in slob ice just off of Indian Bay, and unable to get back to land.

The men had left Saturday morning to go bird hunting and towed their 16-foot open boat across the ice, about one kilometre out through the bay, with their ATVs. At the end of the ice, they launched the boat into the water.

 About 3:30 p.m., the men tried to return to the edge of the ice, however, the winds had blown in thinner ice that could not support the weight of the boat and was also too thick for the boat to move through.

A group of local people went out to the site on their snowmobiles to help, but attempts to get the men to land were unsuccessful due to the compressed ice pans, and slushy water that separated them from the boat.

Attempts were also made to locate a boat that could be used to reach the men but, due to the impending storm, all vessels had been taken out of the water. Further attempts to reach the boaters over the ice were also unsuccessful.

Search and rescue was alerted and called in.

The RCMP says the Gander SAR techs did a great job under adverse conditions to rescue the men and prevent what was developing into a tragedy.

Organizations: RCMP, James Paton Memorial Hospital in Gander

Geographic location: Indian Bay, New Wes Valley

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Recent comments

  • JKB
    February 12, 2013 - 05:09

    Great work on the part of SAR and thank god everyone is ok. Having said that....just wondering what the rationale was in going turr hunting with a major blizzard knocking on the doorstep -- a "superstorm" that was forecasted well in advance. Again....not criticizing/pointing fingers but where was the common sense in this incident?

  • Will Cole
    February 11, 2013 - 17:32

    Going out turr hunting with a winter storm bearing down on them... bloody fools.

  • Happily Retired
    February 11, 2013 - 14:43

    These idiots should have to pay for the costs involved in this rescue.

  • Duffy
    February 11, 2013 - 14:43

    They actually were sent out for people on ice. The little boy who died in Labrador last year was not given that service. He did manage to walk 17 kilo's for two days but the SAR never responded. Sad-Sad-Sad but whoever made that decision not to respond will live with it for the rest of their lives and have his death on their hands. That simple - even though the Politics and Big Shots protect so we could get Musk-Rat Falls Guarantee.