N.S. Mountie heard 'Help me' and pulled hunter from muddy hole off rural trail

MIDDLEWOOD, N.S. — A Mountie who managed to rescue a hunter stuck in a muddy hole at the side of a rural Nova Scotia trail is describing how the incident might have ended tragically.

Const. Andrew Turpin, the officer who found the missing hunter on Tuesday night, says he and other RCMP members responded to a family member's call saying the man had gone missing in the woods.

The constable says in an email today that based on descriptions of the man's usual hunting area, he began checking foot paths near Middlewood, a small community about 50 kilometres south of Lunenburg.

He says as he walked in the dark calling out the hunter's name, he came close enough to hear the man weakly respond, "Help!"

Turpin says the hunter was underdressed and didn't have water, food or a compass, adding "had (RCMP) members not located him as quickly as they did, the outcome would have been tragic."

Turpin says when he arrived, the hunter was slumped over in a shallow pool of water on one side of a small bank, just off the side of the path.

He says the hunter had broken off the only branch within his reach trying to pull himself out and was unable to communicate beyond saying "Help me."

Turpin describes putting his hands under the arms of the hunter and pulling him "out of the ditch, up over the bank."

"He was too cold to understand the situation and help his own rescue effort," the officer says, and he needed to be supported as he took small steps to a spot where he could be laid down on his side.

"He was constantly losing his balance due to his exposure to the elements. After about 150 feet from where he was originally stuck, I was able to place him on the dry part of the roadin recovery position and covered him with my jacket."

At that point, Turpin sent a screen shot of his location to Cpl. Walter Goliath, who was also in the area, who then showed it to the Italy Cross, N.S., fire chief. The chief sent firefighters with ATVs to the location.

According to Turpin, the firefighters placed the hunter in the ATV and attached his seatbelt and one of the firefighters held onto him from the back seat as they drove him about one kilometre back to the nearest road.

From there, paramedics assessed the hunter and treated him for signs of exposure before transporting him to hospital by ambulance. The RCMP says the hunter survived the ordeal but they could not confirm his current condition.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 3, 2022.

— By Michael Tutton in Halifax.

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the rescued occurred Monday night.