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Missing man lucky to be alive

A 73-year-old man who went missing from the Chimney Lake Road area July 11 has been located.
Larry Schafer

Claudette Schafer is relieved her husband was found after he was missing for almost 36 hours.

Larry Schafer, 73, left his home on Chimney Lake Road near Williams Lake at around 9 a.m. on July 11 and was located around 11:30 p.m. July 12.

On July 11, Larry had gone out on his ATV, hauling a small trailer, to get some gravel from an area about five kilometres from his home.

Around dinner time, Claudette began to worry because her husband hadn’t returned. At 9 p.m. she called the RCMP.

The following evening,  at around 11:30 p.m. Schafer was seen by a motorist on Place Lake Road, around 25 km away from his home.

“The man pulled over and asked him if he was lost,” Claudette says.

The motorist helped Larry into the car and brought him to a friend’s cabin, where they fed him a grilled cheese sandwich and some water.

“A few minutes later the man asked Larry where he lived and then brought him home,” Claudette says. “I’m trying to find out the name of the person who found him and brought him home.”

It was around 12:30 a.m. when Claudette heard somebody drive in toward the house. She wondered if it was her daughter or the RCMP, and expected the worst because the ATV had been located, but her husband had not.

Even the RCMP dog that was brought in on Thursday was not finding any scent.

“I went out with the flashlight and heard somebody fumbling with the gate. I put my light up and it was my husband. I just about dropped. I asked him where the heck he’d come from and he said, ‘in the bush,’” Claudette recalls.

She helped him up the stairs into the house, hugged him and kissed him.

“All the things you don’t do after 25 years of marriage,” she says, with a brave smile.

From what she can gather from Larry, the axle broke on the trailer, so he left the trailer behind and headed out on the ATV.

When the ATV stopped working properly, he set out on foot. Unfortunately he didn’t have any food or water because he’d only planned to be gone for a couple of hours.

Larry wandered, drinking any water he could find, and eating berries off the trees.

It was 32 C that day and at points he stopped and dunked his shirt entirely in swamp water and then placed the wet shirt on his back.

Once it was night time, he lay down to sleep under a fir tree, but the bugs were bad, so he rose and walked, even though it was the middle of the night.

“I knew when I saw his tongue that he had to go straight to the hospital,” Claudette says.

Larry remains in intensive care at Cariboo Memorial Hospital on an IV.

“When my daughter was at the hospital they told her yesterday they didn’t think he would have made it another day out in the bush. His kidneys were starting to shut down,” Claudette says.

The RCMP, Cariboo Search and Rescue, Chimney Lake Volunteer Fire Department, and many citizens searched until nightfall Thursday in efforts to locate Schafer.

On Friday morning the RCMP said it would like to pass on a very sincere thank you to those who took time out of their day to assist.


Monica Lamb-Yorski

About the Author: Monica Lamb-Yorski

Monica Lamb-Yorski has covered news for the Williams Lake Tribune since November 2011.
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