“She’s healthy, she’s happy, and she is with family.”
That’s what Ridge Meadows RCMP Supt. Wendy Mehat explained on Friday morning as she officially let everyone know that missing teen Esther Wang had been located after spending two days lost in Golden Ears Provincial Park.
“That is the best possible outcome for us,” said Mehat.
Esther Wang originally went missing on Tuesday, June 27, during a hike along the East Canyon Trail. Originally part of a group of four people, Wang became separated from her companions at around 3 p.m. and the group leader informed park officials.
Ridge Meadows RCMP and Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue (RMSAR) jumped into action and began an exhaustive search of the park area where the group had been hiking up to Steve’s Lookout.
Finally, after 54 hours, Wang appeared coming out the East Canyon Trail by herself, where she walked over to her shocked parents waiting in their vehicle.
“She was very fatigued, but thankfully unharmed,” said Mehat. “She was assessed by B.C. ambulance at the scene and was released to her family that same evening.”
Ryan Smith, RMSAR team manager, explained that Wang’s perseverance and preparation are what allowed her to remain alive so long in the wilderness.
“Esther was prepared,” said Smith. “She had some food and had some water.”
This is, in part, due to the knowledge gained as a member of the 746 Lightning Hawk Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron from Langley.
Smith explained that the search efforts, which involved 16 teams from the Fraser Valley, Lower Mainland, and the Sea-to-Sky Corridor, were made even more difficult than usual due to the difficult area that Wang was lost in.
“The steepness of the terrain that Esther was in… it’s very steep and it’s very thick forestation, which did obviously hamper the search efforts,” he said. “There’s a strong tree canopy above there, which limits our use of our helicopters and drones.”
Despite this struggle to locate her, Wang was eventually reunited with her parents at approximately 9:30 p.m. on Thursday.
“We used as many resources as we could and would like to thank our partner organizations, the RCMP, and other first responders,” said Smith.
Many of the details regarding what exactly Wang did during her time lost in the wilderness are yet to be uncovered, said Supt. Mehat. She explained that the RCMP would be looking into that later today to try and get a better picture of what the past 54 hours looked like for Wang.
“Her family has expressed sincere gratitude to all of the first responders and search and rescue groups,” said Mehat. “They are very thankful for this outcome and they are requesting privacy at this time.”
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