Puvirnituq anglers found safe after four-day search

Police, Rangers and volunteers searched by ground and air

Two men were found safe after getting lost while returning to Puvirnituq, marked here in green, after fishing at Tunusualuk Lake, marked in red. (Map courtesy of the Kativik Regional Police Force)

By Nunatsiaq News

Two anglers have returned safely to Puvirnituq after a four-day search and rescue operation involving the Canadian Rangers, the Kativik Regional Police Force and volunteers.

The subjects of the search were two men who left Puvirnituq on Friday, April 24, to go fishing at Tunusualuk Lake, about 50 kilometres from town.

They failed to return when expected later that night, and were reported missing on Saturday morning, according to a news release from the KRPF.

A ground search was initiated, including an investigation that found the men did not have enough fuel for their trip.

The Northern Village mobilized several volunteers to head out by snowmobile, but the ground search had to be called off later in the day due to poor weather conditions.

On Sunday morning, 14 volunteers left town on snowmobiles to continue the search, but weather conditions remained unfavourable. The KRPF upgraded the search from ground only to include air, authorizing a search by a chartered aircraft.

The police force also called in the Canadian Rangers to assist in the continued ground search, which was again halted for the evening due to poor weather conditions.

The ground search was continued on Monday morning by the Rangers and volunteers, while the police authorized two more charters for aerial survey.

That evening, another group fishing nearby came across one of the men outside the area that had been designated for the search.

The ground search continued for the other man, for whom searchers now had approximate GPS coordinates from the man who had been found.

A fourth plane left Puvirnituq on Tuesday morning for an aerial search, while the ground search continued. Rangers found the snowmobile the men had used at around noon.

Soon after, they found the second man inside the designated search area.

“I want to start by thanking the volunteers and the Canadian Rangers for their time and effort,” said Capt. Mathieu Savage of the KRPF.

“Although this story has a happy ending, we have all seen or heard of tragedies. I urge residents who participate in outdoor activities to bring the necessary survival and communication equipment, even if it’s just a day trip. As they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

After being found, the men explained that on their way back to town, they realized they didn’t have the GPS coordinates for Puvirnituq and got lost. They drove until they ran out of gas and then began to walk.

It was not made clear why the men separated.

The KRPF remind all Nunavimmiut going out on the land to do the following:

  • Share with a family member or friend the planned itinerary and return time
  • Carry a communications device
  • Check the weather forecast
  • Carry essential survival equipment, such as:
    • A tent and sleeping bags
    • Food for at least 48 hours
    • Extra oil and gas
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(3) Comments:

  1. Posted by Good news, finally on

    It’s great to see some good news, finally. Even better when fathers are going back to their families. We gotta stay safe out there. Check the weather before hunting and stay safe!

  2. Posted by Not fit on

    Risk of life and limb. It’s amazing how this unpreparedness continues with people going out hunting, fishing, camping. Not skillful. The days of traditional knowledge is almost gone. These people were lucky to be found. They would have perished as by their own making if not found. Puvirnituq prides itself on teaching land survival skills as seen over years, even teaching pilots about survival. Personally I think the community should be taught more about land survival, not outsiders. Outsiders are not as likely to get lost like that.

  3. Posted by Darek B on

    The follow-up article should include an “after-action” report as some would call it. An investigation into what went wrong. Not to blame, but to identify what decisions (good and bad) lead to this potentially deadly event.

    When working in the mining industry investigating incidents, we would classify this as a”near-miss”. That means, that even though no one was injured, there was potential for harm. And statistically, for every 100 “near misses” there would occur a number of minor injuries (requiring first aid), and for every number of minor injuries there would be a few serious injuries. Then when serious injuries are piling up the chance of fatalities also increases.

    If everyone understood that… they might take more precautions to avoid the near-miss, which reduced the minor accidents, which in turn reduced the injuries and fatalities.

    Just ask a pilot if they ever say to themselves “well, I checked my plane yesterday and I landed safely, and the day before all was fine… I’m sure it will be O.K. today if I don’t check and prepare…” Would you dare to fly with such a pilot? Would you want to go out on the land with such a partner?

    I disagree about the “finally some good news” comment above. The good news would have been if they went out, returned without incident (with fish or without), and no one had to spend thousands of dollars searching for them in the wilderness during a storm.

    The good news stories are the ones that never make it into the news!

    Aim for that result and instead of the story being “I almost froze to death while lost in a storm”, it will be “I caught a fish… this… BIG!”

    That’s my idea of good news.

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