An image from a search aircraft shows Mark Elson and Samuel Roberts as they were located on October 14, 2023. Photo: Supplied
Two men reported missing after failing to come home on time from a Great Slave Lake fishing trip are back in Yellowknife after being rescued on Saturday evening.
Mark Elson, 51, and 65-year-old Samuel Roberts left Yellowknife on Thursday for an afternoon trip on the lake. A search operation began early on Friday when they didn’t return.
A two-day search appeared to have turned up nothing until they were spotted from the air on one of the Cabin Islands, some 40 km southeast of Yellowknife and well outside the original search area.
Stacie Arden Smith, a Yellowknife city councillor and a daughter of Roberts, suggested online that the men had sheltered in a cabin on one island after breaking the lock.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” wrote Elson’s daughter, Sonja Lea Martin-Elson, on Facebook just before 7pm on Saturday. “They have been found and are okay. The coast guard is on the way to get them.”
Within minutes, RCMP confirmed the two men had been located by a Civil Air Search and Rescue Association flight.
A Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary vessel closed in on their position and they arrived back in the city at around 10:30pm.
Police said a Joint Rescue Coordination Centre aircraft had earlier dropped a communication device to the two men, who confirmed they were alive and “doing OK under the circumstances.”
Roberts and Elson were said to have planned a day trip to a commercial fishing spot near Post Island, southeast of Yellowknife, but did not come home as expected on Thursday evening. A search operation began early on Friday morning when they weren’t in touch.
By 5pm on Saturday, RCMP said two days of searching by air and water had turned up nothing, to the point where the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Trenton had arranged for a Hercules aircraft to be sent north.
A huge area between Trout Rock, west of Yellowknife, and the East Arm of Great Slave Lake had been searched by air.
A Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary vessel conducted “a more thorough check near Mirage Islands,” RCMP said earlier on Saturday, referring to a small island chain south of Yellowknife.
Within two hours of the announcement that the search was likely to continue into Sunday, the men were confirmed to have been found.