After close to 40 hours of searching, crews finally found dog walker Annette Poitras alive and mostly unhurt deep within the Coquitlam watershed late Wednesday morning.
The 56-year-old had gone missing on Monday afternoon while walking Chloe, her border collie, Roxy, a young boxer and Bubba, a 13-year-old beagle-pug cross.
Her husband, Marcel Poitras, had called police when his wife didn’t return home. The local search and rescue crews headed into the trails of Burke and Eagle mountains to try and track her down.
More than 300 searchers, including teams from all over B.C. and the Coquitlam RCMP’s missing persons unit, combed thousands of trails north of the Westwood Plateau.
Two helicopters helped from above, but it was a ground crew that finally heard faint cries for help, and then loud barking, in a marshy basin between Cypress and Burke mountains.
“This is well outside the normal trail system in the Westwood Plateau,” said RCMP Cpl. Michael McLaughlin.
Bone-weary search crews did not comment on Annette’s exact condition, but McLaughlin said she suffered minor injuries that prevented her from climbing out of the basin she had slipped into.
“It looks like she’s going to make a full recovery,” he said.
A small crowd of a dozen or so neighbours, friends and family, including Mayor Richard Stewart, gathered to watch a helicopter bring Annette to safety.
Marcel broke into smiles and laughter as his wife was transferred into the ambulance.
"There was no question in my mind. I knew." That's from Marcel Poitras. His wife Annette was the subject of a two day search in Coquitlam back country and was found at 11:15 a.m. Wednesday morninghttps://t.co/73D3VDgnv2 pic.twitter.com/ahi2woWgkc— Kat Slepian (@katslepian) November 22, 2017
“I said this morning she was a tough cookie,” said Marcel. “I knew.”
The Poitrases were taken to Royal Columbian Hospital, just as the three dogs were airlifted out of the woods.
Tina Presley, a friend of Annette’s, and Bubba’s owner, was elated.
“This woman, this incredible woman and these dogs,” she said. “You have no idea how much this means to all of us.”
Roxy’s owner, Janet Kilberg, expressed her gratitude for the search and rescue crews.
“I hope she can get back out walking real soon because all the dogs love her,” Kilberg said. “I’m just so glad and thankful for everyone.”