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REPORTING · 18th November 2012
Terrace Daily News
The Terrace team of dedicated volunteers, the Terrace SAR (Search And Rescue), gave up hundreds of hours of their own personal time and energy in an effort to find closure for the Ohio family of Warren Sills. Not only did they give up family and personal time, they risked their own safety to take on the gruelling task of negotiating through raging ice cold currents, traversing and repelling through steep narrow canyons and exposure to every seasons challenging elements.

Many weekends were devoted to the planning and the searching for the lost hiker, beginning as far back as the beginning of July, 2012 when he was reported missing. Warren’s truck was found at Whiskey Creek trail just west of Kitwanga near Cedarvale and this is where the search effort began. Even long after the “Official" search efforts were called off, (denying Provincial funds to support the effort), the Terrace Sar continued on, month after month. Even when the weather became bitter cold they endured.

As the cold continued and the water levels dropped they were able to access regions of the river canyon previously unsafe to inspect. In was this determined effort by these dedicated volunteers that allowed them to finally be able to properly bring a resolution to the loss for the Sills family.

What is written below is a rather terse, but professional report of the Terrace SAR activities to engage in the final search. The pictures which follow also speak to the situations these men endured.

TERRACE SAR REPORT ON SEARCH EFFORT
with some minor edits
Prepared by Dwayne Sheppard, Search Manager, Terrace Search and Rescue.

During the previous search, on Saturday, November 10, the subjects t-shirt was located in frozen debris at an elevation of 269 metres. Approximately 75 m of the creek still remained to be searched.

On Friday, November 16 Terrace Search and Rescue once again commenced search efforts in Whiskey Creek for Andrew Sills. Expectations were high as it was likely the subject’s body could be in the area being searched.

Terrace SAR left Terrace at 9:00 am and traveled east 75 km to Whiskey Creek. The team hiked 30 minutes into the search area with rope and ‘Swiftwater’ equipment. The team lowered themselves into the creek.

The team traveled approximately 75 meters downstream covering the area searched the previous Saturday,

After making an additional repel through a waterfall chute and swimming across a pool, the team arrived at the start of the unsearched area, approximately 50m below where the t-shirt was located.

The team once again had to navigate around a 4m waterfall.

Approximately 35 m below this water fall was a debris jam consisting of; logs, sticks and rocks. At approximately 12:30 pm Terrace SAR consisting of team members; Sin Luc, Greg Isles, Colin Willoner and Dwayne Sheppard located the body of the search subject inside the debris jam;

Three meters downstream of the debris jam is a 40 foot waterfall. Warren Sills was located above this waterfall.

Dave Jephson of Terrace SAR was notified via radio phone and he then commenced the pre-planned extraction operation. The team took scene pictures of the area and began to dismantle the log jam to remove the body. The subject and two rope bags were placed in a cargo net, which had been flown to the site by a Lakelse Air helicopter, and the subject was and then flown to the BC coroner waiting near the highway. SAR personnel Steve Webb and Matt Adams assisted in this recovery process.

Terrace SAR then demobilized the search area, returning up the stream and arrived at their vehicle by approximately 4:00 pm.

Google Image of search area with inset showing steepness of canyon walls.  The Creek travels up to the base of the Seven Sisters
Google Image of search area with inset showing steepness of canyon walls. The Creek travels up to the base of the Seven Sisters
Location where the body of Warren Sills was located
Location where the body of Warren Sills was located
Looking at another daunting obstacle to overcome in their search efforts
Looking at another daunting obstacle to overcome in their search efforts
After making an additional repel through a waterfall chute and swimming across a pool, the team arrived at the start of the unsearched area, approximately 50m below where the t-shirt was located.
After making an additional repel through a waterfall chute and swimming across a pool, the team arrived at the start of the unsearched area, approximately 50m below where the t-shirt was located.
Cheers to the SAR Techs
Comment by Dale on 19th November 2012
Thanks for keeping at it until this mission was completed ... You are certainly some rugged folks. Rest in Peace young Spirit Bear Adventurer.
True heros
Comment by Terry on 19th November 2012
This is the stuff of real heroics . You guys deserve all the accolades that can be bestowed upon you . Thank you.