Midway RCMP Cpl. Phil Peters is grateful to a Good Samaritan who helped police apprehend a burglary suspect and also assisted with Tuesday night’s rescue operation in Bridesville.
Peters and the suspect, a 47-year-old Bridesville man, were rescued by helicopter late Dec. 1 after a harrowing foot chase down a ravine traversing Rock Creek. Peters followed the suspect down the slope, aided by a 32-year-old Bridesville man who witnessed the suspect fleeing from an alleged burglary in the 1600 block of Fish Lake Road.
Peters said he and the Good Samaritan pursued the suspect through the ravine for about two hours starting at 3 p.m. Tuesday. At several points the men were waist deep in Rock Creek’s frigid waters.
The freezing suspect gave up the chase after developing hypothermia.
“There was no fight left in him,” Peters said, adding that he did not handcuff the man.
Instead, the corporal built a fire to warm the suspect, at times holding him in an effort to raise his core temperature. Meanwhile, the Good Samaritan hiked out of the ravine so that he could bring Peters a pair of dry socks.
“He was just amazing,” Peters stressed. With icy water setting into his feet, Peters said he was very glad for the socks. “My boots were bricks by the time I got out of there.”
Mounties from Midway, Osoyoos and other jurisdictions were unable to assist the rescue in the cold and damp, so police called for an airlift by Canadian Armed Forces based in Comox, according to RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey. The suspect was the first to be rescued. He was taken to a nearby hospital shortly after 9:20 p.m, where he was treated for hypothermia and exposure.
Peters did not require medical attention when he was airlifted 45 minutes later, O’Donaghey said.
Asked how he managed to stave off the cold, Peters said, “I guess it’s just who I am.”
Peters elaborated that he and his father had spent a lot of time hunting in the backcountry around his native Prince George. “I’m going to give my dad a lot of credit for my upbringing.”
Midway RCMP conditionally released four other suspects at the scene of the suspected burglary. The rescued suspect remains in police custody, where Cpl. O’Donaghey said he awaits criminal charges.