Canadian Rangers save driver stranded in blizzard

Article / February 13, 2017 / Project number: c-ar-17-ranger-saves-woman

By Sergeant Peter Moon is the public affairs ranger for the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group

A Canadian Ranger rescue mission is credited with saving the life of a woman whose truck got stuck in a snow drift on an unopened winter road.

The woman left Webequie, a small Ojibway community 540 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, late in the evening and during a blizzard. She was reported to be be emotionally upset when she suddenly decided to drive the truck onto the closed winter road between Webequie and Summer Beaver.

The winter road was in poor condition and not officially open to traffic. Visibility, because of the blowing snow, was minimal. The temperature was -9C with a wind chill of -16C. The woman, in her mid-50s, was only wearing running shoes and light, indoor clothing. She had a health condition that was also of concern.

When she had not been seen for several hours her family sounded the alarm and because there was not a local police officer in the community at the time a band councillor contacted Sergeant Stanley Shewaybick, commander of the Webequie Canadian Ranger patrol.  Sgt Shewaybick contacted the headquarters of the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group at Canadian Forces Base Borden, near Barrie, who alerted the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). The OPP, unable to get to Webequie because of the weather, requested the assistance of the Canadian Army and the Rangers in Webequie were authorized to begin a search.

Sgt Shewaybick,, Master Corporal Corey Neshinapaise, and Ranger Peter Jacob, set  out by truck in near white-out conditions on the winter road, following a trail groomer driven by a road crew worker, while two  civilian volunteers manned an emergency command post in Webequie.

“She was asleep in the truck with the engine running to give some heat when we found her stuck in a snow drift, about 30 kilometres out on the winter road,” Sgt Shewaybick said. “She had no revese gear so she couldn’t back up. She still had some gas left.”

The Rangers gave the woman food and water and returned her to Webequie unharmed.

“The Rangers definitely did a good job in very difficult conditions,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Matthew Richardson, the officer commanding Canadian Rangers in Northern Ontario. “If the Rangers had not organized a search and found her she would likely have died. Once again they responded well to a life threatening situation and served their community in an emergency. They should be pretty happy with what they did.”

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