Coast Guard helps young campers leave Bear Island

Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier
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The Coast Guard cutter Westport arrived at the Digby wharf near 11:45 p.m. with four children who had been camping on Bear Island.

UPDATED: Monday, Feb. 17, 1:15 p.m.

Four young people who had been camping on Bear Island in a snowstorm were helped ashore by the crew of the Coast Guard cutter Westport.

The cutter arrived at the Digby wharf near 11:45 p.m. Saturday night, Feb. 15 and all four young people, a 20 year-old male, and three girls aged 11, 12 and 17, walked ashore.

The youngest of them were in the early stages of hypothermia and were looked after by paramedics in an ambulance on the wharf.

Digby RCMP were also on the wharf and confirmed that the mother of one of the children had called 911 because the child did not have permission to be on the camping trip.

The Coast Guard said Sunday that the group were not at all prepared for winter camping.

They had a couple of blankets and a tarp and some tools for building a shelter but no ski pants, hats, mittens, winter boots or even a lighter to make a fire.

The Coast Guard had some difficulty locating the group because the young people weren’t sure themselves where they were and had only a cellphone and a small flashlight to signal with.

The Coast Guard found them on the western end of the island facing south and picked them up two at a time using their inflatable outboard.

The youngest two were in the early stages of hypothermia by that time, including uncontrollable shaking and blue lips.

Bear Island is 500 metres off shore near Smith’s Cove in Digby County and is accessible on foot or by four-wheeler at low tide.

Low tide was about 6 p.m. Saturday night, high tide was just after midnight and the path ashore would not have been exposed again until close to 6 a.m. Sunday.

The call to the RCMP came in early evening as the tide was advancing.

At 9 p.m. it was snowing heavily with a temperature of -1ºC and winds of out of the northeast at 25 kilometres per hour for a windchill of -7.

The snow to changed over to ice pellets after midnight then back to snow before morning. The temperatures dipped to -4 with winds of 40 kmh gusting to 70 after midnight.

The snow stop by midday Sunday but the winds increased to 60 gusting to 90.

The Coast Guard Cutter returned to the wharf in Westport about 4 a.m. in blowing snow mixed with freezing rain and ice pellets and winds gusting to a 100 kmh.

It took the crew another hour to reach their station at North Point because of drifting snow on the road.


Organizations: Coast Guard, RCMP

Geographic location: Bear Island, Digby County, Westport Brier Island

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Recent comments

  • Susan
    February 18, 2014 - 10:58

    Why would a 20 year old male be with those kids ....sounds a little strange to me .Lucky they got back

  • gay
    February 17, 2014 - 16:17


  • David Sabean
    February 17, 2014 - 13:18

    whats a 11 an 12 yr old doing camping in a blizzard sounded like a bright idea from the start

  • Wendy Bremner
    February 16, 2014 - 10:53

    So glad to see that the mom called 911...