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Two missing women camping on Dodd island near Ucluelet found safe

Feb 18 2012

A reading week vacation went terribly wrong for two lost hikers, who spent Friday night in the brisk wind and rain on a tiny, heavily forested island near Ucluelet.

Nine campers, believed to be university students from Victoria, rented kayaks and paddled to Dodd Island, part of the Broken Island Group in Barkley Sound.

After setting up camp, two women, both in their early 20s, went for a walk around dinner time, but did not return until rescuers found them Saturday morning.

An extensive search both on and around the tiny island began around 8 p.m. and included the Canadian Coast Guard, Parks Canada, West Vancouver Island search and rescue and Port Alberni search and rescue.

Fellow campers also scoured the shorelines that stretch about one square kilometre, according to a Laura Judson, communications officer for Parks Canada, who said it was “the safest way for them to help.”

The coast guard had two vessels circling the island Friday night. They faced high winds and some “pretty severe squalls,” said Renee Wissink, manager of resource conservation at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

The women were not found until Saturday around 10:30 a.m.

Two search teams walked through the bush and sent out occasional sound blasts until they heard the missing hikers responding, Wissink said.

Neither of the campers had proper gear and were both quite wet and cold. Early reports indicate they were both safe and healthy.

Extreme weather this time of year is the biggest risk to kayakers and campers in the area.

“You can get some extreme weather this time of year and high seas,” said Wissink. “General travel is not recommended to the Broken Group, particularly inexperienced kayakers.”

dspalding@timescolonist.com

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