Man wanders for 5 days before being found in fire zone

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During the White Rock Lake Wildfires in the North Okanagan, the RCMP deployed numerous police resources from around the province to assist with scene security, conduct patrols and establish check stops.

On Saturday August 28, 2021 at approximately 10:30 am, frontline officers patrolling in the fire zone on Paxton Valley Road located an abandoned pick up truck that appeared to have been involved in a collision as it was high-centred on a fallen tree. The vehicle’s licence plates were from out of province and there were no signs of anyone nearby. Police conducted queries of the vehicle’s licence and could not locate information to contact the registered owner, a 35-year old man. As the vehicle was unlocked, police were able to examine the interior and locate a cell phone.

Fortunately, the cell phone still had enough battery left to show several missed calls. Said Cpl Tania Finn, Media Relations Officer with the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP. Using the information found in the phone, the police officer on scene was able to make contact with the last caller.

Police spoke with a family member of the pick-up owner who advised it had been several days since they had contact with the man. The family further explained the man suffered from mental health issues and his current whereabouts were unknown. Believing the man’s safety was in jeopardy, the officers on scene updated other police resources patrolling the area of the man’s name and description in order to conduct a canvass for the man.

Several kilometers away near Falkland, police found the man lying in a ditch, conscious but in need of medical attention. The man explained that, after his truck became stuck, he tried to walk out but became lost and disorientated in the bush and had wandered for nearly five days before police found him. BC Ambulance Service attended and transported the man to hospital.

It is fortunate this circumstance had a positive outcome; however, the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP are reminding everyone to stay clear of the fire zone areas given the unsafe conditions and that landscapes may have been altered due to the fire.