‘Hunkered down, stayed warm’: Family members missing on Vancouver Island found safe

Click to play video: 'Missing North Island hunters found safe'
Missing North Island hunters found safe
A happy ending to a harrowing incident in northern Vancouver Island this morning: three people who went missing over the weekend during a hunting trip were found and brought to safety. Kylie Stanton has more on the heartwarming reunion and how the trio was able to find help. – Nov 13, 2023

The search for three missing people who were hunting on northern Vancouver Island ended happily on Monday.

Willy John, his adult daughter Ashlee Cosman and six-year-old granddaughter Olivia disappeared this weekend while hunting in the Woss area, which is about an 80-minute drive north of Campbell River.

Their disappearance kicked off a large search effort when the trio didn’t return home.

John said after their vehicle became stuck Saturday afternoon and they had no cell service, he knew he had to trek through the woods for help.

Eventually, he made his way to a logging camp.

“I knew there was a logging camp down here and everyone goes home for the weekend,” he said, explaining that’s why he waited until Monday to walk and get help.

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John said they just hunkered down, stayed warm and kept the heater on when necessary.

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Squamish SAR wins big at Defender Service Awards

The camp residents were able to contact local officials and the three of them were brought to safety and a tearful reunion.

“If I never have to play… I Spy With My Little Eye again that will be too soon,” Ashlee said. “We played a lot of that game, a lot of Eye Spy. We just had to keep in high spirits, try not to be cranky and frustrated.”

Luckily, she added, she packed a lot of snacks and water, which is her usual practice as a mom.

Dylan Baker, the incident commander for Campbell River Search and Rescue, told Global News the happy outcome reminds everyone on the team why they do what they do.

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Four teams were taking part in the search Monday, along with PEP AIR, an associate member of the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association and RCMP officers.

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Husband and dad Trevor Cosman said he just wanted to thank everyone involved with the search.

“Words can’t describe how much this means to me, and there’s nothing I can do to show how much I appreciate it,” he said.

Baker added that this is a reminder to everyone venturing out into the backcountry if they end up needing help.

“If you’re recreating in the North Island you have to understand that there’s no cellphone coverage for most of it,” Baker said, adding that everyone should have a device that they can use to reach out if they need it because their phones cannot be relied upon.

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