Nunavut community celebrates return of lost hunter
Searchers find Steven Allianaq of Hall Beach after four-day ground and air effort
The community of Hall Beach celebrated the return of Steven Allianaq March 13 after the end of a four-day search for the lost hunter, who was found more than 50 kilometres outside the community.
“He’s in good health, just tired and a little dehydrated” with minor frostbite, said Halie MacNeil-Smith, senior administrative officer for the hamlet.
Two ground searchers spotted Allianaq in an area just west of Hall Lake at around 2:30 p.m., according to the municipality, some five hours outside the community by snowmobile.
Search crews combing the area reported this information to RCMP by satellite phone just before 4 p.m.
Celebrations followed with a feast at the community hall that evening. Allianaq “made a brief appearance there to say it was fun to be at home with his family, and have some rest,” MacNeil-Smith said.
“It was fantastic, a true testament to the community and their efforts to work together in a time of crisis,” said Cpl. Chris Smith, commander of the RCMP detachment in Hall Beach.
Allianaq, 24, failed to return home from a weekend caribou-hunting excursion with two fellow hunters on March 10, around noon. The community called on help from Nunavut Search and Rescue that evening.
Searchers received added help from Canadian Forces aircraft, March 12, when the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Winnipeg sent a CC-130 Hercules to sweep the search area. A CC-138 Twin Otter from 440 Squadron based in Yellowknife continued efforts from the air on March 13.
“This would be the largest-scale search I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” said Cpl. Smith, who has served as the community’s detachment commander for two years.
Canadian Rangers and searchers from Igloolik also helped with the ground search, Smith said.
“The search encompassed a grid north of Hall Beach, towards Igloolik and westward,” he said, to an area past Hall Lake, more than 50 kilometres west.
“They included all possible parameters in the search grid.”