Stranded Coral Harbour teen saved from ice floe
Boy, uncle now resting at Churchill hospital
Jupi Angootealuk, 17, and his uncle, Jimmy Nakoolak, 56, were resting in a Churchill hospital this week after their polar bear hunting trip near Coral Harbour ended in a near-disaster.
An aerial photo taken by search and rescue teams from CFB Trenton shows Angootealuk on the ice floe before being rescued on Nov. 9, three days after he and Nakoolak were separated from each other and their snowmobile.
Nakoolak and Angootealuk left Coral Harbour on Nov. 6 on a single snowmobile, which they stopped to go hunting on the sea ice.
But as they set out on foot, the ice split into pans, leaving the hunters separated from each other, their snowmobile and their gear.
After another hunting party found the abandoned snowmobile 10 kilometres south of Coral Harbour the next day, a rescue party of 40 volunteers organized themselves to find the pair, an RCMP news release said.
Nakoolak had been pushed back to shore by the morning of Nov. 8, where he was trying to walk back to Coral Harbour. Searchers found him at 10:30 am.
But Angootealuk had drifted about four km offshore, 42 km southwest of Coral Harbour. Air and ground searchers finally spotted him around 4 pm that day, according to the RCMP.
Angootealuk, who couldn’t be reached due to ice conditions, appeared to have a rifle and had killed a polar bear in self-defense, searchers reported.
A Kenn Borek Twin Otter was able to drop Angootealuk a kit with a lighter, flashlight and some candy — as well as some flares, which didn’t work.
The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Trenton, Ont., sent two Hercules and a helicopter from Hall Beach to the scene. But with no light they had to wait until the next day to attempt a rescue.
Three search and rescue technicians were finally able to parachute onto an ice floe Monday morning, crawling on their bellies towards Angootealuk, who was conscious but suffering from hypothermia and frostbite.
Rescuers in a seven-metre aluminum boat then picked up all four men and took them to shore.
After being treated for hypothermia and minor frostbite in Coral Harbour, Angootealuk was medevaced to Churchill for further treatment.
“The Coral Harbour RCMP, the hamlet of Coral Harbour as well as the family and friends of the hunter would like to express their sincere appreciation to all those involved in this search,” police said.