Skip to content

‘No doubt he’d have been dead’ mom tells Chilliwack RCMP after son’s rescue

Relieved mother pens thank-you to RCMP who hiked for hours in frozen woods to save adult son
RCMP officers hiked almost 13 kilometres into the bush tracking a distressed man who took off from Chilliwack Lake campground. (Google Maps)

A grateful mother has nothing but praise for RCMP involved in the rescue of her son from the Chilliwack back country.

Lynn Sawatzky fired off a thank-you letter to Chilliwack RCMP for the officers’ role in “definitely saving” her son’s life.

“I want to let you know how grateful I am how your team all helped in rescuing my 32-year-old son, Randy Sawatzky, last week in the forest at Chilliwack Lake,” Lynn wrote in a Jan. 18 email.

Shortly after noon on Jan. 13, RCMP had received a report of a man “acting erratically,” on Chilliwack Lake Road, who appeared to be in significant mental distress before he took off into the bush.

Officers rushed to the scene with police service dogs to search the heavily wooded area near the Chilliwack Lake campground.

They hiked about 13 kilometres through deep snow to find him, and it took more than four hours.

Randy Sawatzky suffered frostbite in the ordeal, and his core temperature had dropped to dangerously low levels as he was not dressed in warm clothing to face the elements.

RCMP officers worked with B.C. Ambulance personnel to warm his core and prepare him for transport by helicopter to hospital.

The officers showed “determination, local area knowledge and experience in back country recreation” which were recognized as key to the successful outcome of the back-country search, RCMP officials said.

More than a week later, Randy considers himself lucky that “no toes had to be amputated, let alone a foot,” his mother wrote in an email to Chilliwack RCMP’s watch commander dated Jan. 18.

“More importantly, had you not found him, I have no doubt he would have been dead by the next morning, if not sooner.”

“He is very humbled from this experience, and well aware how close he was to death. Again, I can’t thank you all enough for going all the way up there, and working along with the ambulance attendants to save my son’s life!”

The calming effects of one officer, Cpl. DeWine, were mentioned in the letter, as the RCMP member who kept Lynn updated by phone on the status of rescue as it was happening.

“You have no idea how important that was, and how much it meant to me!” she added.

Lynn signed the letter: “A Relieved Mother with Much Respect and Appreciation for your RCMP Detachment!”

RELATED: Distressed man tracked for hours by RCMP near Chilliwack Lake

RELATED: Avalanche risk was strong in the CRV

Do you have something to add to this story, or a news tip? Email:

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering the arts, city hall, as well as Indigenous, and climate change stories.
Read more