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B.C. teen shares story of terrifying fall in backcountry


In late October 2023, Sarah Giles was out for a dirtbiking ride with her dad in the remote B.C. backcountry when she suffered a terrible fall.

“I fell 20 feet into a creek, kind of blacked out,” said the 17-year-old Coquitlam resident. “So I’m not exactly sure what I hit.”

Giles landed on a pile of jagged rocks with half her body in a frigid creek. She couldn’t move.

“I had broken my sixth rib, I had broken my T6 on my spine, broke my C2 on my neck and fractured part of my C1,” said Giles.

Her father, Dean Giles, was trailing behind.

“I got word there was an accident two minutes in front of me and it’s my daughter,” he said. “So until you get there, it’s panic going through your mind because no one knew anything.”

The fall happened approximately 30 kilometres southeast of Squamish. There was no cell service in the area, but the father used a Garmen satellite device to call for help.

A fisherman – who volunteered with Whistler Search and Rescue – also happened to be nearby, and was able to provide basic medical aid on site.

A crew with Coquitlam Search and Rescue (SAR) eventually took over the operation.

“So we managed to land the helicopter and our paramedic went over there and did a reassessment of her,” said Bob Heatherington, a manager with Coquitlam SAR. “A decision was made to immediately load her into the helicopter.”

Giles shared her story with CTV News at a recent Coquitlam SAR fundraiser.

“We do get some money from the government of B.C. but most of it is fundraised through grants, events like this and individual donors and corporate donors,” said Helena Michelis with Coquitlam SAR.

She said the money is used for equipment, training and operation costs. Coquitlam SAR has around 50 volunteers and responds to approximately 70 calls a year.

Giles spent five days in the hospital and many more months recovering from her injury, but says she’s feeling nearly 100 per cent.

“They did save my life,” said Giles. “And it’s something I’m extremely grateful for.” Top Stories

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