A Trail man reported missing was found “safe and sound” Tuesday night after a short but challenging search, according to police.
When South Columbia Search and Rescue (SAR) was called in to locate 49-year-old Darrell Unger at approximately 3 p.m. Tuesday, the crew had little to nothing to go on but a vehicle description and an urgency to find him. Just a few hours later, 30 regional SAR members deployed and the missing man was successfully rescued and forwarded to the hospital for care.
“The family had some concerns for his well-being, so we were very interested in locating him as fast as possible,” explained Sgt. Darren Oelke of the Trail and Greater District Detachment.
Unger was last seen leaving his home around 11 a.m Tuesday, and by 3 p.m. South Columbia SAR was called out for assistance.
“Darrell was a particularly close search for us, as he was a member with us a few years back,” explained Mike Hudson, the South Columbia SAR president, who managed the rescue.
“We’ve had a couple of searches that have been pretty close in regards to family or friends, but we’ve never had a search where we’ve had one of our members or previous members (missing).”
From his home, Hudson called in aerial assistance to give a general overview in hopes of finding a starting point.
“Having been with search and rescue previously, we knew he knew a lot of backcountry areas so it definitely widened the search for sure,” said Hudson.
By then, he began to mobilize his command and headed toward the hall in Fruitvale but his efforts were literally intercepted when he was struck by another vehicle. The motor-vehicle accident left the command truck parked, but Hudson jumped in with another member and continued toward the hall.
Upon arrival, Hudson called in extra resources from SAR Rossland, Castlegar, and Nelson. About 30 members of the collective group focused efforts on the Pend D’Oreille, Champion Lakes, Bombi Summit, Sunningdale and Syringa areas.
It wasn’t until Hudson touched base with Unger’s wife that he decided to focus efforts around the Pend D’Oreille, an area the missing man liked to visit.
Members migrated there, where Unger was located up from the Seven Mile Dam with his vehicle on a dirt road. He was in need of immediate medical attention and was evacuated to the Trail Walmart, where paramedics took over.
“We were so very happy to find Darrell when we did and alive of course,” said Hudson. “This was a relief for our SAR members, especially knowing the subject as a fellow previous member.
“(The rescue) definitely had the same urgency level as any but, of course, because we knew him, we had that drive to keep going and keep looking and trying to do what we could, even though we were limited by the information we had,” he added.
RCMP are not releasing any more details on the “sensitive” rescue. Oelke had high praise for SAR and its quick and successful rescue.
“When we get to the point where we don’t have the manpower, we hand it over to SAR,” he explained.
“When we want as many boots on the ground looking, and we want to get it done in a short period of time, SAR is called in.”