Two young children were rescued Monday after spending the night alone on Burke Mountain in Coquitlam.
RCMP Staff Sgt. Paul Vadik says the drama began late Sunday afternoon when the boy and girl, aged 6 and 7, were heading down a trail with their father.
“All three, unfortunately, ended up falling down a steep treacherous cliff and the father was able to make the difficult climb up the cliff while injured to get help and made the difficult decision to leave the two kids on a plateau feeling that it was too dangerous for the kids to follow him up.”
Members of the Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, and North Shore search and rescue teams responded, and the children were found around 8 a.m. on Monday and long-lined to safety by a helicopter.
Coquitlam Search and Rescue Manager Ian MacDonald say they are grateful the six-year-old girl and seven-year-old boy weren’t seriously injured.
“Well, you can imagine that all of us, you know, we’ve got kids and then it was really elation because this is very rugged terrain where they were lost, so we were just very, very thankful that they were found alive.”
READ MORE: Young man found after wandering away from Okanagan campsite, spending night in the backcountry
The girl and boy, aged six and seven, and their father apparently slipped into a creek and were hurt around the Monroe Lake area while hiking on Sunday. The family, visiting from the U.S., had been trying to get to Monroe Lake to fish, but got off track.
The kids and their father were visiting from the state of Georgia and were hiking into a lake on Burke Mountain to go fishing.
COQUITLAM, BC., May 20, 2019 — Coquitlam RCMP and Search and Rescue locate two young children, age 6 and 7, after spending the night stranded on Burke Mountain in Coquitlam, BC., May 20, 2019. The children are pictured being rescued by a helicopter longline in this photo. NICK PROCAYLO / PNG
Two children from the United States have been rescued, cold but not seriously hurt, after spending the night alone in a forested area of Burke Mountain in Coquitlam, B.C.
RCMP say the six-year-old girl, seven-year-old boy and their father fell down a "steep, treacherous cliff" into a creek drainage area near Munro Lake late Sunday. They'd been trying to get to the lake to do some fishing on the sunny afternoon, but lost the trail, search crews said.
A police statement said the father made the difficult climb back up the hill, while injured, to get help. Search and rescue teams found the children just before 8:30 a.m. PT on Monday. They were rescued by long line an hour later, with their father standing by.
"This was really a miraculous rescue and a really positive outcome," Coquitlam Search and Rescue manager Ian MacDonald told reporters.
"You can imagine, all of us [searchers], we've got kids. It was really elation. This is very rugged terrain where they were lost so we were just very, very thankful that they were found alive and uninjured," he said.
MacDonald said the children were cold but alert without any serious injuries. They were taken to Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, B.C., for a full checkup.
Bryan Moffatt and Brad Rennie, who both work with Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue, were part of the team that found the kids.
"They were invisible, pretty much like a rock. They were hiding under a grey sweatshirt. After several calls, they actually responded and came out of the sweatshirt and gave us the A-OK," said Rennie, whose group spotted the children from up the hill.
"Very," said Moffatt, whose own two kids are of a similar age. "They were quite smiley."
Coquitlam RCMP Staff Sgt. Paul Vadik said the children were conscious when their father made the "difficult decision" to leave them Sunday night, thinking the climb would be too dangerous for the kids.
He wrapped them in warm clothes, told them not to move and hiked a kilometre or two over dense, forested terrain until he had cellphone reception to call for help. MacDonald said search crews got the call around 7 p.m. and searched for the children all night.
MacDonald said the children didn't move while they waited for rescue. They were found just where they'd been left, not far from a backpack their father had lost.
"The kids did a great job. And the dad did a great job of telling them, you know, 'I want you to stay here,'" the search manager said.
He said the area around Munro Lake is safe so long as hikers stay on the trail, though it's common for people to get lost. Crews said the family was visiting from the state of Georgia and the father wasn't familiar with the area.