The parents of a Simon Fraser University student rescued after falling into a tree well and going into cardiac arrest are crediting a “string of miracles” for their daughter’s rescue.
Christine Newman, 24, remains in the Intensive Care Unit of Vancouver General Hospital but is expected to be transferred to a regular ward in coming days. There, it is expected she will spend at least a couple of weeks in rehabilitation. Skiers and snowshoers had found Ms. Newman’s nearly lifeless body one week ago, on April 1. Details are now emerging about her extraordinary rescue.
Ms. Newman was snowshoeing in Garibaldi Park, near Squamish, last Monday when she ducked into a cabin at Elfin Lakes around sundown. There, she made small talk with a group of six other skiers and snowshoers – who would later be credited with saving her life – before turning in for the night.
Eric Urban said he first noticed Ms. Newman was gone at around 8 a.m. the next morning. “There were no fresh tracks outside, so we just assumed she went back to the parking lot,” he said.
It is believed Ms. Newman went to seek an outhouse around 2 a.m. when she lost her footing and fell feet-first into a tree well – a void around the base of a tree buried in deep snow. Shortly after the group left the cabin at 9:15 a.m., it happened upon her distinctive backpack and eventually located Ms. Newman, who by then had lost all vital signs.
Mr. Urban and his friends sprang into action. The group – which included a swimming instructor/life guard, a hospital lab worker and Mr. Urban, a Calgary police officer – pulled the young woman out of the well and took turns performing CPR on her for more than two hours. They also called for help and, while waiting for it to arrive, used their snowshoes to pack down an area so that a rescue helicopter could land.
“They were very much together in terms of understanding what to do,” said John Howe, manager of Squamish Search and Rescue. “They had a very organized plan and they were instrumental in saving her life, that’s for sure.”