One person has died and another was taken to hospital Friday evening after they both fell 50 feet into a ravine in Cottonwood Creek.
A woman in her mid-30s succumbed to serious injuries early Sunday morning Kootenay Lake Hospital, according to BC Coroners Service spokesperson Barb McLintock, while a man in his early 20s was treated and released. The woman’s name has yet to be released.
The ravine is upstream from Cottonwood Falls and across the highway.
Sgt. Brian Weber of the Nelson Police Department told the Star that it appears that both people fell into the ravine, but police are still investigating how and why.
It’s not an area well-travelled by pedestrians.
“It is a pure coincidence that a pedestrian was walking from Rosemont to Marketfest,” Weber said, “and that person heard the screams for help. It is very loud in there. Even at low water mark, the canyon is very loud.”
Weber said the pair were in the ravine for “a matter of hours. How many hours, we are not able to nail down.”
He said that in addition to their injuries the pair was hypothermic when they were discovered.
The rescue was a joint effort between the police, BC Ambulance Service, and Nelson Fire and Rescue, which sent rescuers down on ropes from the ladder truck.
“They sent the first fellow down quickly,” fire chief Len MacCharles told the Star, “so he could secure the woman because she was in grave danger of falling under the road and down the falls. We managed to prevent that from happening. She was in rough shape when we got to her.”
She was packaged into a spine board and basket stretcher and lifted from the creek. The man was rescued in a similar way but with a harness.
“It was cold and dark down there,” MacCharles said. “The rescuers were working in water, and they got cold over time as well.”
He said the rescue took about 30 or 40 minutes.
Weber said that to access the ravine, the pair would have had to either climb the fence on the highway or approach the ravine from above.
“We do have instances of people wandering around up there. I have seen people camping up there right on the edge of an 80 foot cliff.”