Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Chopper breaks through ice during rescue

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ARVIAT, Nunavut -- A pair of seal hunters waiting to be plucked to safety after becoming stranded on ice in Canada's Arctic had to literally leap into action and become the rescuers themselves Wednesday when the chopper sent to retrieve them broke through the ice.

"There actually wasn't a crash," said Capt. Jill Strelieff, public affairs officer for 1 Canadian Air Division in Winnipeg.

"A civilian chartered helicopter, a Bell Jet ranger from a local company, was going to rescue the two. When he landed on the ice floe, the weight of the aircraft broke through the ice and the two hunters were able to pull the pilot from the aircraft."

Strelieff said a large CC-130 Hercules aircraft from CFB Trenton was on hand and was able to parachute in two rescue technicians. The group of five then waited while a helicopter was dispatched from CFB Cold Lake in Alberta.

It managed to land safety and transported the entire group to shore. They were then transported to Arviat, Nunavut. All three men were taken to hospital and treated for hypothermia, but are listed in good condition. High winds made the temperature feel in the range of -50 C.

The drama on the west shore of Hudson Bay began to unfold Tuesday night when the search was launched after the hunters didn't return home as scheduled.

Charlotte St. John said she was immediately worried for her brother Joe Karetak and his son Joe Jr., better known by his traditional name, Nepyok.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 10, 2013 A12

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