On Thursday, August 2nd at 17:30, Coquitlam SAR was asked by Port Moody Police Department to search for two missing 20 year old women with special needs in the Sasamat Lake area. The women, on an outing with a school group, wandered away from their care givers around noon. The team arrived at 18:30, and commenced a search and rescue operation that ultimately lasted in excess of 80 hours, involved 20 different agencies, and required more than 120 individual volunteers to complete.
The first subject, Judy, was located at 23:30 about 3km from the point last seen by a member of Coquitlam SAR on a second trip into that area. The second subject, Joy, was located 60 hours later after an exhaustive and sometimes frustrating 3 day long search. Ultimately, information provided by Judy on where and when she and Joy separated gave us what we needed to direct searchers into the right area.
All large searches are a team effort, and large searches require a large team; Coquitlam SAR acted as the lead search agency, but no single SAR team could pull this off without the support from the many emergency response agencies in the province. We would like to thank the following organizations for their outstanding efforts over the past few days, whose combined contributions led to this most successful outcome.
- Coquitlam SAR Retired and resource members
- Dan Cook
- Mark Sanford
- Pat Hurley
- Amanda Ward
- Port Moody Police Department
- Port Moody Fire-Rescue; the command centre with air conditioning and the UTV were extremely useful
- Metro Vancouver Parks Staff
- Sasamat Volunteer Fire Department
- Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue #2
- BC Ambulance Service
- Coquitlam Fire-Rescue
- Coquitlam RCMP
- RCMP Dive Team
- BC Search and Rescue teams (in no particular order)
- Lion’s Bay SAR
- Surrey Search and Rescue
- North Shore Rescue
- Chilliwack SAR
- Mission SAR
- Ridge Meadows SAR
- Central Fraser Valley SAR
- Kent-Harrison SAR
- Squamish SAR
- Sunshine Coast
- Several Vancouver island and Gulf Island teams who were alerted and asked to attend but were stood down en route because the subject was found
- Any SAR teams in the southwest region of BC; SAR managers on these teams were contacted many times and asked to send members, we’re thankful for your efforts regardless of how many members could attend.
- The staff at the Emergency Coordination Centre (ECC) in Victoria, and the staff of Emergency Management British Columbia (EMBC)
- Talon Helicopters
- BC Search and Rescue association
- Salvation Army — for their food water and refreshments supporting all search efforts
- Challenger Baseball team
- Douglas College staff — for organizing volunteers to go door-to-door and postering, and for technical support
- Friends and family of Joy and Judy (the two subjects) who worked tirelessly and attended the search every day
- Other convergent volunteers and members of the public
Remember that all of your efforts, regardless of how minor, contributed to the successful outcome. Any small assistance you gave allowed other people to do other things, and ultimately let us send searchers to the right place. We thank you all.
In particular, this is the largest search in recent memory in the Port Moody jurisdiction, and our team would like to offer our special thanks to the members of the Port Moody Police; it was an honour to have worked together with you on this search, and we value our relationship with you.
Finally, we would like to single out two people who we regard as the heroes of this effort: Judy, the first subject in the search; and Constable Fisher of the Port Moody Police Department.
When we first interviewed Judy we were unable to understand the story she was telling us. We needed to know where she and Joy separated to help focus our search. The key factor in understanding Judy’s story was Constable Fisher. Each time we asked Judy to return to the search area she did, and Constable Fisher was able to build a relationship with her, and help her tell us her story. Each time Judy came out, another piece of the puzzle fell into place. On Sunday the last essential piece of information came when Judy told Constable Fisher that she had not been walking alone for very long when we found her.
This meant that Joy’s point last seen was close to where we found Judy. With this critical information we refocused our search efforts in this area and soon found Joy.