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Watch: RCMP make dramatic cliff rescue of lost Didsbury woman

Lorraine Vandenbosch found after being missing from a Gleniffer Lake area campground for three days

GLENIFFER LAKE –  Didsbury’s Lorraine Vandenbosch is in a Calgary hospital following a dramatic helicopter rescue halfway up a cliff at Gleniffer Lake.

The rescue of 78-year-old Vandenbosch, who police were frantically trying to find for three days, took place at about 9:30 a.m. this morning (June 1) after an Alberta RCMP Air Services crew spotted the elderly woman on a steep lake embankment.

“Rescue teams had difficulties transporting her due to a steep embankment. Alberta RCMP Air Services were again up to the task in supporting rescue efforts by landing in the difficult location and transporting Lorraine,” said RCMP Cpl. Troy Savinkoff. “She was taken by our helicopter and transported to a landing spot where EMS was able to assess her, and ultimately STARS transported her to a Calgary hospital.

“Lorraine remains confused about her ordeal and RCMP have few details at this time.”

  Source: Video courtesy of Innisfail RCMP
Savinkoff said the rescue was challenging for the RCMP’s air services team but they were able to get to the elderly woman and help her into the helicopter, which was partially and precariously on the side of the cliff.

“The helicopter wasn't fully landed and basically hovered,” said Savinkoff.  “And then the fire department (crew) was able to support her and physically walk her into the helicopter.”

Vandenbosch had been missing from the Dickson Point Campground since about 10:30 a.m. on May 29. Vandenbosch had been with family members at the campground.

Since that time scores of RCMP officers, volunteers and search and rescue personnel from Red Deer County, Sundre and Rocky Mountain House had been searching for the missing woman.

The search included airplane and helicopter patrols, as well as several volunteers on horseback and ATVs.

“A helicopter is a very useful tool that we utilize when conducting searches simply because it's able to cover a lot of ground in a very short amount of time,”said RCMP Cpl. Troy Savinkoff. “We were able to utilize the RCMP resources with our helicopter and had it out first thing this morning.

“We're very pleased we are able to report it was successful in finding her,” he said.

“The reports we've received is that medically she's actually in fairly good condition,” added Savinkoff. “She's been taken to hospital but surprisingly she's in pretty good shape, considering the length of time she had been out in the bushes.”

It is not known at this time how the elderly woman, who has mental impairment issues, was able to survive without food, water and shelter for three entire days and nights.

“Water, definitely water, might be the number one concern as well as the cold,” said Savinkoff.

He said that once Vandenbosch’s medical needs are thoroughly addressed RCMP will interview her to find out as best they can the circumstances that led to her disappearance.

“She will be interviewed, and the information about where she went missing, where she was found and some of those other details will be used for future searches as far as setting distances and limits and guiding principles for other searches that are done in the future,” said Savinkoff, adding everyone involved in the search and rescue operation is now relieved.

“It's hard when you have all those volunteers and you're making all those efforts, and you're not coming up with any successes,” he said. “But sometimes it takes a lot of perseverance, and it's good to see that they were still out there and were successful.”

Johnnie Bachusky

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