A break and enter incident turned into a full-out military rescue on Tuesday night after one suspect and his arresting officer got trapped in a 400-foot ravine.
RCMP said officers initially responded to reports of a break and enter in the 1600 block of Fish Lake Road in Bridesville, a small community around 36 kilometres east of Osoyoos in B.C.’s Southern Interior.
When police arrived at the location, five suspects were at the scene, with four being detained and the last evading police into the backcountry.
“The break-in suspect entered into (a) river multiple times before ultimately being located and arrested by the determined officer,” said Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey.
“The arresting officer and his prisoner found themselves nearly 400-feet down (a) ravine, trapped and unable to climb back out.”
To further complicate matters, the suspect quickly became hypothermic and the officer was dealing with being exposed to frigid temperatures.
Police say neighbouring detachments responded to help, but that assisting members weren’t able to rescue the officer or suspect.
However, O’Donaghey said those members, along with passersby, tossed warm clothing and supplies down to start a fire and keep warm.
Police then called the Canadian Armed Forces for urgent support, with a plane and a helicopter dispatched from Comox for a medevac rescue.
Around 9:20 p.m., the suspect was airlifted from the ravine by search and rescue technicians. The 47-year-old Bridesville man was then airlifted to hospital for exposure-related injuries.
Just under an hour later, at 10:15 p.m., the officer was rescued. He did not require any medical attention.
Police say the other four suspects – two men, ages 44 and 45, and two women, 35 and 51, all of Bridesville – were released at the scene, but are facing potential charges.
RCMP say they expect them to appear in court at a later date.
They added that the 47-year-old man was wanted on several outstanding warrants for his arrest. He remains in custody and is said to be facing additional charges.
“B.C. RCMP expresses its deepest thanks to all those members of the community who were directly involved in looking out for the safety and well-being of one of our front line officers and our client by providing them warm clothing and supplies to start a fire for warmth,” said RCMP Southeast District Supt. Brad Haugli.
“We also would like to sincerely thank our Canadian Armed Forces partners for their valued support.”