The rescue and the loss

Just when you think every situation that can arise has passed you by, you get another one from the unfathomable depths of fate. The life of a news cameraman is an interesting one, made more so by the odd testing situation we sometimes find ourselves in. Whether it’s an unexpected attack from a member of the public, a nutter deciding he wants to be on telly, or perhaps a sudden rainstorm in the middle of a live broadcast it’s all bound to happen at one point or another. Today, I experienced one of the more frustrating sides to the job shall we say.

I have landed a part time job as a cameraman at a television station in Vancouver, Canada. Today I was sent off on a job with a reporter to cover the banning of campfires at many campsites across British Columbia due to the escalation of the fire hazard after a bout of hot weather.  Off we went to Golden Ears provincial park near Maple Ridge, BC. An hour drive and we arrived, all prepped to interview a few campers and see what they thought of the ban. Suddenly there was a phone call and we were told that a developing incident was occurring in Golden Ears Park.  A search and rescue was underway. We went to check it out.

Luckily for me, Nich and I had been out to Golden Ears park a couple of weeks prior for a spot of camping ourselves (yes, we had a campfire, lovely it was). In fact, it’s also lucky for you, the reader, as it allows me to illustrate this tale with some pictures. For example, here’s us having a perfectly legal campfire in the park…

Camping… Canadian style

Anyway, i digress.  Myself and the reporter arrived at the scene.  We found out that a man was stuck at the base of Lower Falls waterfall following the attempted rescue of a dog.  We decided to go and check it out, despite the fact that it was a 4km hike with the equipment.  I had done the trail before so knew that it was easy enough, even though my reporter was wearing high heels!

No heels were broken as I lugged the camera up the trail, and on arriving at the falls the story began to unfold.  A woman and her dog, and a man and his dog had trekked up to the falls.  The woman’s dog had leaped into the inviting pool above the falls and the current had swept poor doggy over and down the three story drop, seemingly onto the rocks below.  When they looked, the dog had survived, so the brave man decided to jump in and save it.  Unfortunately for him, the current was very strong and , despite saving the dog and dragging it away, he was only able to scramble to a nearby rock and cling on. 

Lower Falls. The stranded man was to the right, just over the rocks.

The water is freezing here. Straight off the snowmelt, it is barely above freezing, so any length of time spent in there is bad news (I can personally vouch for this having swum in the river a couple of miles downstream).  The woman called 911 and the search and rescue team were deployed.  

The rock on which the man and dog were stranded was out of view from the main trial. In fact, the large crowd of onlookers told me that you couldn’t see anything when we arrived (see above picture).  I got some shots of the crews working themselves into position and hatching a rescue plan and the then decided to climb above the waterfall to a point I had visited on my last trip, to see if i could catch a better view.  Sure enough, I found the perfect vantage point. It was a little risky, on sloping rock right by the waterfall itself, but I was perfectly safe on the bone dry rock. 

I caught the entire rescue on camera, leaving only to capture the heart warming reunion of first the rescuer and the dog-owner, and then dog-owner and rescued dog. 

The rescue teams were superb and I captured some great footage of them in action. They also spoke to us, along with the rescued man and dog-owning woman, who was very grateful to everyone involved.

As I finished the second to last interview, my tape ran out. So i swapped it out, handed the full tape to my reporter and told her to label it up and keep it safe. I swapped to a new one and packed up my equipment. We finished the shoot and set off triumphantly down the 4km trail back to the car.   As we reached the car, I unlocked and started packing up. I looked up at the reporter as she came toward and I noticed that she seemed slightly distressed. 

She had lost the tape on the trail.

This had never happened to me before, not least on such a good, exclusive news shoot on which there was no possible way of recapturing the footage. I went back (being the one not in high heels) and searched the whole 4km trail twice and couldn’t find the tape. After a while, the reporter joined the search in a commandeered fire buggy but it was to no avail.

I suspect a member of the public picked up the bright blue DVCAM box and took it away, not knowing how precious it was. 

Lying by the pool at the top of the falls. The dog had jumped in here and immediately got into trouble


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