Rescuers celebrated after helping dehydrated hiker

Ha-Shilth-Sa, July 12, 2010

From left to right: Cory Charlie, Joe Bob, Larry Kunz, Shawn Quick, Randy Mercer and Phillip Nayakos. Not pictured is rescuer Francis Bruhwiler. Joe Bob and Larry Kunz got into trouble on a long hike on July 12.

Long Beach — 

                                                                                                        

A hike along the rugged Esowista Peninsula almost turned to tragedy for a young Tla-o-qui-aht man who was rescued after suffering the dizzying and weakening effects of severe dehydration.

Joe Bob, age 26 and father of two, joined his friend Larry Kunz July 12 for a hike that Kunz estimated would take five or six hours. They each carried a litre of water.

The two men set out on a sunny morning from Cox Bay in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve to what they thought would be about a five-hour hike to Radar Hill.

“There’s no trail; it’s a lot of rock climbing and bush whacking,” recalled Bob.

The hot weather, combined with the physical exertion, caused Joe Bob to sweat profusely and he quickly ran out of water.

“I started having dizzy spells and had to stop a lot because I was afraid of falling,” he said.

Kunz began sharing his water with Bob, but lost the last bit of water along the hike. The men slowed their pace and stopped frequently to allow Bob to rest.

Kunz was in cell phone contact with his wife, who was becoming frantic with worry as the hike approached the 10-hour mark.

“I told Larry that if we don’t see a beach around the next corner to call for help,” said Bob.

Kunz made the call and just short of an hour later help arrived.

Parks Canada sent a search and rescue party made up of Randy Mercer and Francis Bruhwiler. Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks Guardians Shawn Quick, Corey Charlie and Phillip Nayakos also took part in the rescue.

“They gave me water with electrolytes and that helped right away,” said Bob, adding he recovered enough strength to make the hour-and-a-half hike out of the forest. In total, the two men spent 15 hours attempting to make their way to Cox Bay.

At the hospital Bob was told by the doctor he was so drained that it was as if he had no nutrients left in his system, like he hadn’t eaten although he said he brought a huge lunch. Bob was treated with IV fluids which made him feel better almost immediately. He was released from hospital after an hour of treatment.

Bob’s mother, Noreen Frank, hosted a dinner July 23 to show her family’s appreciation to the people that went out to rescue her son. She told her guests that she wanted to show her appreciation to Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Park Guardians, Parks Canada, the people of Esowista and all that came to sit with her as the rescue was underway.

 She handed out gifts to each of the rescuers that included framed artwork and photography made by her sons. “Joe and I want to acknowledge you for being there for us,” she told them. She presented gifts to her family members, thanking them for providing support to her both during the crisis and in helping her prepare for the dinner.

“We don’t realize how precious life is until something like this happens,” she said, adding, “It could have been worse.”

She went on to tell her guests that her people host dinners like this one in order to prevent these things from happening to their families again.

“I grossly underestimated how long the hike would take,” Kunz admitted, saying the hike would normally take 9 to 10 hours.

“I would do it again,” said Bob of the hike, “but with more water.”

By Denise Titian