Nanaimo couple who didn't return from fishing trip found safe
Published Saturday, November 14, 2020 11:58AM PST Last Updated Saturday, November 14, 2020 8:06PM PST
VANCOUVER -- Tamara Sandulak and Cody Martin are relieved, happy and thankful after what had been planned as a quick fishing getaway turned into multiple nights stranded under heavy snow.
The Nanaimo couple and their dog, Rex, failed to return from the trip on Wednesday as scheduled, prompting a multi-day search and rescue effort that ended happily Saturday morning.
Nanaimo RCMP said in a news release that the couple and dog were located around 8:15 a.m., Saturday at Moriarty Lake, approximately 16 kilometres northwest of Second Lake.
"Other than being cold and hungry, all three were in relatively good health," police said in their release.
Speaking to CTV News Vancouver Island after their rescue, the couple described how they ended up stuck.
"The first day, it was late, and we thought, 'Well, we can't make it out before dark or anything like that, we don't know how long it's going to take us, so we'd better just stay with the truck and stay safe,'" Martin said. "And then, the next day, we were going to walk out, but it was just a complete whiteout. Even that night, the whiteout started. It was almost a couple feet of snow."
They were out of range for cell phone service, but had a radio with them, and were able to check the weather throughout their ordeal.
The couple next planned to walk out on Friday, but found the weather was still snowy. They told CTV News they decided to wait for the clear weather that was forecast for Saturday morning.
“We were up at, like, 6:30, and started walking at 7:30," said Sandulak. "All of a sudden, Cody hears his phone go, ‘Ding.’ We heard his cell phone get service and you don't know how relieved we were when we heard that."
“I didn't know who to call, but like anybody, I guess, I thought I would call my mom, and she was so excited she hung up on me," Martin said. "And then the search and rescue got on the phone and said that a helicopter was inbound, so we were just so relieved at that."
The couple shared a photo with CTV News that shows just how deep the snow was where they were.
"This is the outcome everyone was hoping and praying for," said Nanaimo RCMP spokesperson Const. Gary O'Brien in the release. "We would like to acknowledge all of the dedicated volunteers and especially each and every search and rescue volunteer, who provided expertise and commitment to this arduous search effort. This was a tremendous effort by so many."