Jim Elliot

Column: When you become part of the story

Reporter Jim Elliot helps with rescue of missing hang glider pilot

Going to work with a camera in hand has a way of putting you in situations you wouldn’t otherwise find yourself in.

This job offers many opportunities for chance occurrences and glimpses behind the scenes into events that run the spectrum from beautiful to terrifying.

One recent occurrence where I found myself in the middle of a series of events when I had only intended to be a distant observer took place this past Friday on Queest mountain.

While on assignment in Sicamous, I received word that a hang-glider pilot was missing and had apparently crashed on the mountain. A Shuswap Volunteer Search and Rescue crew was already on their way to search for him.

Hoping to be able to publish a good-news story about the searchers quickly locating the downed glider pilot, but fearing the worst, I set off up the mountain.

I knew the route along the dusty logging roads to the hang-glider ramp well because the ramp provides a photographer’s dream-view of the Narrows and the adjoining Shuswap and Mara lakes.

As I was winding my way up a narrow and heavily forested portion of the road, concern about my chosen route was growing. I had not yet encountered any search and rescue vehicles or volunteers. Suddenly, I saw something I hadn’t expected to see.

By the side of the road stood a man wearing an exhausted expression and a large smear of dirt across the front of his shirt.

As I didn’t see a vehicle nearby, I stopped to make sure he was alright. It turned out I had stumbled upon the downed hang-glider pilot, who had walked away from the crash and was familiar enough with the area to hike to a road.

He seemed grateful for the ride down the mountain and the use of my cell phone to begin calling off the search; I regret I didn’t have any water to offer him as it was a punishingly hot afternoon.

Shortly after picking up the pilot, who was uninjured except for a possibly broken rib, we encountered the RCMP and search and rescue crews who whisked him away to be checked over by paramedics.

Seeing myself mentioned in the police report we received about the incident was a surreal experience for someone who is often present, but never really a part of the events that fill the newspaper’s pages each week.

It was a case of being in the right place at the right time. I wouldn’t have been a part of the story without a job that constantly calls for going out of my way to take a closer look at things.

Just Posted

Lightning strikes West Kelowna condo

Fire crews were called to a building on Carrington Road Tuesday night

UPDATE: Smoke rising from Okanagan Mountain Park hills

Lightning may have sparked a fire in the hills across from Peachland

Lightning strikes across B.C. Interior

Residents are being asked to go inside until last rumble of thunder

Update: Lightning sparks blaze above Summerland

Firefighters are battling the small fire from the area that occurred Tuesday shortly after 7 p.m.

UPDATE: Crews battle wildfire near Big White Road

Joe Rich Fire Department responding alongside Big White Fire Department and provincial crews.

Trudeau asks transport minister to tackle Greyhound’s western pullout

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s asked Transport Minister Marc Garneau to find solutions in Greyhound Canada’s absence.

Search continues for missing North Okanagan-Shuswap women

Search planned for July 21-22 to start behind Splatsin Community Centre in Enderby

Dehart: Attractive and quaint setting at Laneway Canteen

Maxine Dehart takes a look at the new businesses in downtown Kelowna

Lightning sparks wildfires in Vernon

Tuesday night storm causes wildfire in BX and residential fire in East Hill

Crash closes Highway 5A in both directions

A collision has shut down Highway 5A about 22 kilometres south of the junction with Highway 97C

Hub for mental health and addictions treatment opens at B.C. hospital

St. Paul’s Hospital HUB is an acute medical unit that includes 10 patient beds

Pike Mountain fire continues to grow – quadruples in 24 hours

Fire threatens area consumed in 2017 by a 3,500 hectare blaze

North Okanagan Knights hire Van Horlick

New head coach of Junior B franchise in Armstrong

St. Albert knocks down Canadians

Finals of Valley of the Champions

Most Read