A monument recognizing the sacrifice of fallen search and rescue members has joined the Garden of Honour on the B.C. legislature grounds.
Search and rescue volunteers gathered from across B.C. and as far away as Saskatchewan Thursday for the unveiling of the monument, which bears the names of 17 search and rescue personnel who lost their lives during searches over the past 50 years.
The Garden of Honour, on the south side of the B.C. legislature, has monuments for police, firefighters and paramedics who have died in the line of duty.
“Trained volunteers are the first, and sometimes the only rescuers to arrive to help people in trouble,” said Chris Kelly, president of the B.C. Search and Rescue Association. “This monument is a solemn reminder that despite extensive safety programs, their work can still be dangerous.”
With more than 4,400 search and rescue volunteers currently working in B.C., the risks continue daily. Naomi Yamamoto, minister of state for emergency preparedness, noted the recent successful search for 20-year-old Spencer Hunt after an extensive search near Nanaimo has a special significance.
Hunt is related to Reginald Richard Hunt and Alfred Benjamin Hunt, who were aboard a Provincial Emergency Program Air (PEP Air) flight that went down in 1970, killing all aboard.
Kelly said the monument was carved from 17,000 pounds of granite, symbolizing the 17 names inscribed on it. In addition to the Hunts, they are:
Lyle Saunders, PEP Air, Merritt, 1967
Gary Daniels, PEP Air, 1967
Norman Wilson, PEP Air, Alert Bay, 1970
John Craig, PEP Air, Cranbrook, 1983
Bob McGregor, North Shore Rescue, 1989
Marcel Andrie, Lions Bay Search and Rescue, 1994
Bill Bing, PEP Air, Nelson, 1996
Sheilah Sweatman, Nelson Search and Rescue, 2011
Angie Nemeth, Halfmoon Bay, 2012
Victor E. Hanuse, PEP Air, Alert Bay, 1970
Cynthia Griffith, PEP Air, Cranbrook, 1983
Eric Buss, Bulkley Valley Search and Rescue, 1991
Rick Dendys, PEP Air, Nelson, 1996
Rick Ayotte, PEP Air, Nelson, 1996
Beatrice Sorensen, Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue, Halfmoon Bay, 2012