Family survives two nights in Labrador wilderness

Ty Dunham
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Churchill Falls RNC found family in good health

A Labrador City family of four is back safe and sound after being stranded in the Labrador wilderness for two days 160 kilometres outside of Churchill Falls.

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The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) did not release the names of the family members, but Constable Adam Brake said his Churchill Falls detachment received a call at 6 a.m. on Aug 18, from concerned family members who expected the travelers to return from a fishing trip the previous evening. 

The family — three adults and one teenager — were traveling in the remote area of Esker on their way to a converted bus they use for camping when they damaged their vehicle while trying to traverse a large washout on the road. The vehicle broke down after several kilometres.  

Brake said while the southern end of the road is fairly busy, the north end where the family was traveling is rarely visited.  

“Two of the people left their vehicle on Aug. 17  and attempted to locate their cabin,” Brake said.

“They walked five hours north and found nothing and turned around and made the trek back for a total of 10 hours walking.” 

Fortunately it was during the summer months, however that doesn’t mean it was without its danger.  

“There are a lot of bears in the area, and I noticed a lot of bear signs on the way to locate these people,” he said. “I’m not sure if they seen or heard any bears.”

Brake said the family was able to have a brief fire, however, they didn’t have the proper equipment to sustain it.  

“They had plenty of food with them and lucky enough had a butane stove, so they were able to cook some of the food, even cooking bacon over an open flame with a stick.”

Brake said the family made good choices for survival.

“They checked their immediate surroundings for anything useful to survive, whether it be another cabin or some dry wood. When they couldn’t locate any of that they stayed with their vehicle, which was their best chance for survival. They had their food and the vehicle provided them with shelter so they made the right decision.”

A few hours after receiving the call the RNC found the family in their vehicle.

“We had a lot of rain on those two nights and there wasn’t any sign of their vehicle; the tracks completely washed away” he said. “If they didn’t stay with their vehicle they would have had a really cold and wet night in the elements.” 

Brake said although the family was in good health and good spirits, the experience was clearly draining. 

“They were very tired, the ride back was very quiet. Most of them slept on the way.”

 

ty.dunham@tc.tc

Geographic location: Labrador, Esker

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