Missing scout leaders found, stranded children rescued from bush near Jordan River

Two scout leaders missing in the Sooke hills near Jordan River were found Monday safe and uninjured.

Peter Kenmare and Lisa Nilsson spent Sunday night weathering out a storm after they decided it was too dangerous to continue hiking in strong wind, heavy rain and dense fog.

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“We made it fairly well to the point where the bad weather system came in,” Kenmare said. “At that point, we made the judgment call to hunker down.”

The two had a tent and sleeping bags and were equipped to spend the night. They packed up their camp when daylight arrived Monday and used their wilderness navigation skills to head toward a trail.

Search-and-rescue crews found the two once they were out of the bush. “It really honestly couldn’t have gone better,” Kenmare said. “Nobody was hurt or injured. Just a lot of tired people that just need to get home and be dry.”

The search for Kenmare and Nilsson started Sunday afternoon after they left a scout group — five children and one other leader — to get help and didn’t return or make contact with scout leader James Powell.

Powell and the children, who are between 11 and 14 years old, were out of the bush by Monday evening, after search and rescue volunteers found a safe route.

“They should be at home and be telling their stories to their families,” Vickie Weber of Juan de Fuca search and rescue said Monday night.

Nilsson said the group woke up Sunday morning to four inches of snow and decided it wasn’t safe to bring the children out the way they had hiked in.

Kenmare and Nilsson, who are both experienced in the backcountry, had set out at 9:30 a.m. to get into an area with cellphone service and call for help.

When they weren’t back by early afternoon, Powell was able to make a radio call to Shirley Volunteer Fire Department, where he is a firefighter.

A creek between their camp and the trail had risen enough, however, that even search-and-rescue crews weren’t able to find a safe way to cross it.

They reached the group’s camp Sunday night but decided to spend the night. Two volunteers stayed with the group while others searched for the missing leaders.

The three scout leaders were prepared with overnight gear, a radio in case of emergencies and the navigational and first aid skills they needed to stay safe.

“That is one of the biggest things we push in scouting is being prepared, or as prepared as you can be,” Kenmare said. “It saves lives.”

regan-elliott@timescolonist.com

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