David Piatkowski took a photo of base camp at the bottom of the mountain after playing a role in the rescue of an injured hiker on Family Day. (David Piatkowski photo)

David Piatkowski took a photo of base camp at the bottom of the mountain after playing a role in the rescue of an injured hiker on Family Day. (David Piatkowski photo)

Young hikers aid in remote rescue of severely injured man near Cowichan Lake

Spotty cell service meant his partner had to hike out for help

An afternoon hike for group of young adults near Cowichan Lake turned into an all-day affair after they came across a woman and her severely injured hiking partner on Monday.

David Piatkowski, 22, his girlfriend Ayden McKitrick and three friends were about an hour and a half into their trek to the Bear Creek Caves deep into the mountains near Skutz Falls when they came upon a frantic woman on the phone with 911.

“She said her partner had suffered some pretty bad injuries,” Piatkowski explained on Tuesday. “She had to go hunt for service.”

They estimated the woman had to travel about a kilometre from her companion in order to find spotty cell service on the mountainside.

What that meant was her partner was waiting alone, injured, on the forest floor.

“My girlfriend, she started running ahead with our dog. She was the first one to get there,” Piatkowski said. “He’d had to crawl out of the cave quite a bit on his own to get back to the main road so he was able to be seen.”

McKitrick set to work providing first aid.

“He was in a lot of pain,” she said. “He was conscious and talking when I first found him. He was in shock at first and after a few hours [the adrenaline] started running out and he was in a lot of pain.”

The group of young adults huddled around the injured man in an attempt to generate some heat.

“We gave him all our clothes to keep him warm because he’d been on the ground about an hour before we got there,” Piatkowski said. “I went off to try to get his backpack and his belongings that he’d lost when he fell because he had some first aid stuff in his backpack that we were able to recover and use.”

Piatkowski also started a fire for warmth and to use as a beacon should a helicopter rescue be required.

The terrain was steep, rocky and uneven making it hard for first responders to get there.

Cowichan Search and Rescue’s first crew arrived with ATVs just after 4 p.m., just over an hour and a half after the young adults first found the hikers.

“When they came to see how bad the situation was they left and went to get more help right away,” Piatkowski noted.

McKitrick said hypothermia was a concern because of the setting sun and rapidly dropping temperatures.

“It was very, very cold. We tried to make a fire closer to him but it wouldn’t start. It was so dark and icy up there,” she said.

The group didn’t want to move the man closer to the first fire they’d built for fear of exacerbating his injuries. They had concerns about his back and neck.

“We just gave him all our clothes and tried to keep him as warm as we could,” he said.

It ended up taking until roughly 9 p.m. to extract the hiker safely.

“We had to walk with a stretcher most of the way because the terrain was so rough,” Piatkowski said.

The young adults are hoping to learn of the man’s condition and possibly would like to check on him in hospital.

They’d bonded quite a bit in their time together.

“We stayed the whole time. We couldn’t leave him,” Piatkowski said. “If we hadn’t shown up it would have been him and his one travelling partner so he would have been laying there alone in the cold for quite a while because she was going for help. This was definitely a first for all of us. It’s definitely quite shocking.”

Messages left with the RCMP and Cowichan Search and Rescue had not been returned by post time.

Just Posted

Friends have identified the man killed in Friday’s shooting in Metchosin as Shane Wilson. (Shane Wilson/Facebook)
West Shore RCMP continue to investigate shooting death in Metchosin

Man killed on Sooke Road Friday night identified by friends

Anyone with information is asked to call Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 or contact Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477 or submitting a tip online at www.nanaimocrimestoppers.com.
21-year-old motorbike rider dies after crash with ATV on Nanaimo back road

Incident happened Sunday afternoon near Boomerang Lake

Hannah Ankenmann, who works with k’awat’si Economic Development Corporation, winces as she received her first shot of the Pfizer vaccine administered by a Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Family Health nurse. (Zoe Ducklow photo)
Vancouver Island’s small remote towns to get community-wide vaccine clinics

Island Health to take a wholesale approach to immunization, rather than age-based appointments

Cole Moore with one of his sisters, Jasmin Moore. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island man looks to brain surgery for second chance

Fingers crossed that brain surgery can give Cole Moore a new lease on life after decade of seizures

Mary Mason of Owls Path Foundation presents plans for a Nuu-chah-nulth Cultural Centre to Port Alberni city council. The structure pictured in this image is the Copenhagen Opera House. (SCREENSHOT)
$25 million Indigenous cultural centre pitched for Port Alberni

Three possible locations put forward for multi-million-dollar Nuu-chah-nulth project

Const. Nancy Saggar, who has 11 years in policing, offers advice for other women who may pursue both policing and family. (Black Press Media file photo)
Pregnancy prompts sage advice from RCMP officer for women thinking about policing

West Shore constable with 11 years experience heads off on maternity leave

Montreal Canadiens right wing Paul Byron (41) fights for control of the puck with Vancouver Canucks defenceman Quinn Hughes (43) during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Monday, March 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Captain Clutch: Horvat nets shootout winner as Canucks edge Habs 2-1

Vancouver, Montreal tangle again on Wednesday

A special committee has been appointed to look at reforming B.C.’s police act and is inviting the public to make submissions until April 30, 2021. (Black Press media file)
Have thoughts on B.C.’s review of the provincial Police Act?

Submissions will be accepted until April 30

Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
New COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna care home includes fully vaccinated seniors: Henry

Two staff and 10 residents tested positive at Cottonwoods Care Centre

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provide a regular update on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, March 2, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 cases: 545 Saturday, 532 Sunday, 385 Monday

Focus on Prince Rupert, Lower Mainland large workplaces

Khowhemun Elementary is one of two Cowichan Valley schools that announced possible COVID-19 exposures last week. (Google Street View image)
Two Cowichan Valley schools announce possible COVID-19 exposures

Positive tests at Khowhemun, Quamichan; Superstore confirms more cases

Rising accident rates and payout costs have contributed to billion-dollar deficits at ICBC. (Comox Valley Record)
B.C. appealing decision keeping ICBC injury cases in court

David Eby vows to ‘clip wings’ of personal injury lawyers

Most Read