On Tuesday, May 17, Simpcw First Nations elder Roy Lampreau, 72, was airlifted to hospital after spending a day-and-a-half pinned under the wheel of his pickup truck on the Leonie Creek forestry road.
Lampreau’s ordeal began not long after 6 a.m. on the Monday morning when he left home to cut firewood at an unspecified location. He was reported missing to the RCMP at 7:45 p.m. that evening when he did not return home.
Local search volunteers quickly organized and headed out looking for the missing man. Kamloops Search and Rescue (SAR) were also on scene, and at 3 a.m. Wells Gray and Barriere SAR teams took over from them.
By 8 a.m. Tuesday morning, with no sign of Lampreau to report, the search was extended to a wider area with assistance from four Provincial Emergency Preparedness airplane teams from Penticton, Kelowna, Vernon and Kamloops. At noon an RCMP helicopter had joined in the search, as well as teams from 100 Mile House, Merritt and Logan Lake.
Simpcw Chief Nathan Matthew said the band started searching for Lampreau Monday evening; they set up a search base at the band office in Chu Chua and the volunteers just kept arriving.
“We had 70 band members searching,” said Matthew, “They were relentless.”
It was a band member who finally found Lampreau, much closer to Barriere than expected, although still a long way up a remote logging road in the Leonie Creek area.
Adam Hobler of Kamloops Search and Rescue posted on Facebook, “Lampreau’s truck rolled over top of him and pinned him underneath. He could see the planes searching for him and tried signalling them by reflecting sunlight with his watch but with no success. Once located it took crews an hour to rescue him and transport him to an air ambulance helicopter.”
Unfortunately, due to the severity of his injuries, Lampreau’s crushed leg had to be amputated.
Chief Matthew reported last Friday, “Roy is doing quite well and resting comfortably. We are happy we found him and he is safe. Thirty-two hours was a long time to be in that situation.”