Rangers rescue teens stranded in far north

Two Canadian Rangers and a civilian volunteer went to the rescue of two 17-year-old youths whose all-terrain vehicles broke down and left them stranded 100 kilometres east of their home community.

The boys were hunting for caribou when their ATV engines broke down in an area with an abundance of polar bears near to Hudson Bay. 

They managed to use their cell phones to alert their parents in Fort Severn, Ontario’s most northerly community. Fort Severn is a small and remote Cree settlement 1,500 kilometres north of Toronto. It has a population of just over 400.

The two youths were Dakota Bunn and Zachary Kakekaspan, both experienced in living on the land.

Much of their community was locked down because of a COVID-19 crisis so the Canadian Army authorized the local Ranger patrol to go to the aid of the two youths. Rangers are part-time army reservists.

The search team consisted of Sgt. Christopher Koostachin, Ranger George Kakekaspan, and James Kabestra, a civilian volunteer and an uncle to Bunn. They reached the youths late in the day as the sun was setting and decided to camp out overnight.

“They were very happy when they saw us arriving and carrying treats their parents sent for them with us,” said Koostachin.

The rescuers repaired the two ATV engines and returned with the youths to Fort Severn late on the second day. Because it was dark when they got back they left their ATVs and all their gear on the far side of the wide River Severn and crossed it in canoes.

“We did not to want to risk crossing with our gear in the dark,” Koostachin said. “We could easily have got swamped. We went back to get our gear the next day.”

It was the second time Rangers have gone to the aid of Dakota Bunn while he was on a hunting trip.

Two years ago he and a friend got their ATVs stuck in mud. Koostachin and Kakekaspan conducted a successful rescue.

“I teased him about it,” Koostachin said. 

He said the parents of the two youths rescued this week sent the Rangers a grateful message for going to the aid of their sons.

Sgt. Peter Moon is a Ranger with the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group at Canadian Forces Base Borden