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01-04-2012, 01:56 PM #176Registered User
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- Feb 2005
- North Vancouver/Whistler
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January 04, 2012 NEWS » WHISTLER
SAR members meet with Whistler Mayor over Golden lawsuit
No search ever begun, stressed Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, for missing couple
by Alison Taylor
click to enlarge
Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden met with Whistler Search and Rescue members this week.
The lawsuit against a fellow search and rescue organization in B.C. has had deep impacts and lasting concerns for Whistler's local team.
That much was evident at Tuesday's informal meeting for the roughly 25 members of Whistler Search and Rescue (WSAR) who came out to hear from Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden - wearing her other hat as the lawyer representing Gilles Blackburn.
Blackburn initiated the first lawsuit against a SAR after his wife Marie Fortin died in Golden's backcountry in 2009. That suit has since been settled with Golden and District Search and Rescue (GADSAR) and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and remains ongoing with RCMP.
"I am very constrained by what I can say," began the mayor, adding that she is limited to the facts that are in the public domain, chief among them the coroner's report detailing Blackburn and Fortin's desperate nine day attempt at survival after ducking the boundary rocks at Kicking Horse.
"Needless to say, there are lots of other facts that are not included in this report."
Of the facts that she could talk about, Wilhelm-Morden said there were several issues at play in the Blackburn case and at the heart of the matter was a problem with communication.
For one reason or another, the key players did not all get into a room together, map the SOS signs which had been reported, and debrief all the information which had been gathered up until that point, something she said "really ought to have happened."
The other point she highlighted was the defining feature of this case, which was that no search was ever initiated. Blackburn was spotted by a helicopter on the ninth day in the wilderness and rescued. By that time it was too late for his wife.
"It wasn't because of a botched search, it was because of no search," said Wilhelm-Morden.
Brad Sills said the ensuing lawsuit shook up the SAR community.
"The blanket protection I used to think I had... has been tested," he told the group.
Out of this case, however, the province has agreed to cover third-party liability insurance for all SAR groups in BC.
The litigation is now over for GASDAR - an out of court settlement this month, the details of which will likely never be known. Blackburn also resolved his case with Kicking Horse Mountain Resort with no damages paid. The legal action is ongoing with the RCMP. A trial date has been set for September.
01-05-2012, 01:09 AM #177
I still don't understand why volunteer SAR would have a duty of care in that persons in the backcountry can have an expectation of rescue, and sue for damages, even if best practices are not followed.
01-05-2012, 07:06 AM #178charge on jong
- Join Date
- Sep 2010
- Golden, BC
01-05-2012, 08:18 AM #179Registered User
- Join Date
- Mar 2008
- northern BC
01-05-2012, 12:39 PM #180Registered User
- Join Date
- Nov 2003
SAR doesn't need frivolous lawsuit BS.
Here's kind of a cool story about someone giving thanks, after the fact.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Survivor Gives Search and Rescue $1.5M
Aspen team saved woman's life in '77
A woman who survived a 1977 plane crash in the mountains above Aspen, Colorado recently donated $1.5 million to Mountain Rescue Aspen (MRA) as thanks for the two-day search-and-rescue operation that saved her life. In a ceremony on November 29th, the 34th anniversary of the crash, Lynda Cameron dedicated the gift in memory of her father, who was killed on impact when the plane struck a ridge in a snow storm. Cameron, her mother, brother, and three other survivors spent two nights in freezing temperatures before they were spotted by an MRA helicopter. “I wish to be an ambassador for all those who did not have the chance to thank Mountain Rescue Aspen themselves,” said Cameron. The gift will be used to build new headquarters for organization, which is funded through donations and staffed largely by volunteers.