911 call ignored, driver found dead 3 saved week later

BIG RIVER, SASK.–Saskatchewan RCMP extended their condolences and launched an independent investigation of their 911 system after a woman died and three others were stranded for seven days in their stuck car.

Sgt. Carole Raymond says two women and two children had been driving to Loon Lake from Prince Albert when their car got bogged down in mud and water on a poorly maintained road in a remote area near Big River.  Records indicate a person from the car called 911 on April 8 but no officers were dispatched. The person asked for a tow truck but it appears one wasn’t sent, Raymond said.  On Monday, four days later, someone called police about a woman’s body on the side of Highway 942.

“It appears that she walked 60 kilometres from where the vehicle was in the water to the road,” Raymond said. On Tuesday, police got a report of a missing person and they learned that the dead woman had been travelling with another woman and two children. “The connection was made,” Raymond said.  A search by both air and ground began. On Thursday searchers spotted the mired car. Rescuers had to use all-terrain vehicles to get to the car due to the remote, difficult terrain.

“It was wet … it took a good 2 1/2 hours to get to them once the airplane had spotted them,” she said.  Finally, about 9:30 Thursday night, a week after someone from the car made the call for help, rescuers reached the car and found the woman and two children alive. They were taken to hospital in Shellbrook where they were in stable condition. The family has asked police not release any information on the ages or relationships of the people involved, Raymond said.

She didn’t have any information on how they survived so long.  “That’s a very good question,” Raymond said. “Certainly they were very lucky.” RCMP Chief Supt. Randy Beck said the independent review of the 911 system will be done by Saskatchewan Ministry of Corrections, Public Safety and Policing. “I would like to assure the public that we believe that the technology and processes of our dispatch systems work. “But I acknowledge that in this instance, there appears to be a departure from regular procedures in handling of a call for assistance. That is why I have asked for an independent review.”

He said senior RCMP officials have met with family members of the dead woman and the survivors “to express condolences.”

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