NSR was about to conduct flights into the Hanes Valley but had to change plans to rescue two individuals who were searching for Liang Jin. Liang has been missing since Dec 31st.
These two individuals (friends of Liang’s) were in terrain that was dangerous and they were not prepared for the conditions. They were putting themselves at risk and likely would not have made it out without the assistance of NSR and being flown out in the helicopter.
We understand the motivation – if a friend or loved one is missing – you want to go search. We want to go search – its what we do.
However, NSR would like to stress – please do not go into the back country unprepared and without training and please do not go into closed areas. We understand that they felt they had a reason to do so, however, this can result in us needing to conduct another rescue or worse case – this can result in a fatality. The conditions in the backcountry are in constant flux in the winter, and the terrain and avalanche conditions on the North Shore can be extremely dangerous. There are numerous wet slide avalanches on the North Shore at this time. In addition, without the proper equipment it is easy to become hypothermic in a short amount of time.
Also keep in mind if we are spending resources and time rescuing additional people – this takes our focus away from looking for the original subject. This obviously causes a slow down and distracts from the search.
The flights NSR was about to conduct was with the family of Liang Jin, showing them where their son may have gone and what the conditions are like on the North Shore at this time. Previous to leaving our SAR station NSR was called to rescue these two individuals.
It is an extremely difficult decision on whether or not to continue a search. However, the RCMP and NSR take into consideration many factors including – do we have a general idea where this subject could be. At this time we are not confident that Liang is in the Hanes Valley, and he may be on another mountain completely or not even on the North Shore. This makes it very difficult to conduct a search as you cannot narrow down the search area. Additionally we look at rescuer safety – if we cannot conduct a search in a safe manner – we don’t go. Other complicating factors include weather – since December 31st a large amount of snow has fallen making it difficult to spot any sign – clothes, backpack, tracks etc. Finally in the case of Liang Jin – there has been a large amount of public traffic in most hiking areas as there was a string of good weather days after Dec 31st with many trails being hiked extensively. This causes us to believe that Liang is/was not on a main trail, otherwise he would have requested public assistance.
In this case we also rely heavily on tips from the public as shown in our previous blog post asking for information that may allow us to narrow down the search area.
Unfortunately every year there are fatalities from good intentioned people attempting to rescue others, but end up getting themselves in the same situation as the person they are trying to rescue. Again we get it – searching is what we do – however, we have trained extensively so we can do it safely and try and bring your loved ones home without anyone else getting hurt.
Please be safe, don’t venture into the backcountry without training and equipment, please do not go into areas that are closed, ALWAYS tell someone where you are going, bring the ten essentials with you – including a flashlight.
The picture below (taken from the helicopter) shows one of the subjects searching for Liang today. He is standing on a rock bluff above a snow slope.