Dog tracks missing woman

Intoxicated Nanaimo woman was found unconscious after riding in Wastelands area

By Danielle Bell, Daily NewsSeptember 24, 2009

Nanaimo RCMP say a 45-year-old woman found unconscious and wet in the Wastelands area late Sunday could have died within hours had a police dog not tracked her down.

Police say the intoxicated woman had wandered away in extremely dense brush after riding ATVs with friends in the Wastelands, a North Nanaimo area popular with riders.

Friends phoned police when they could not find her. She is believed to have been missing for several hours before Nanaimo RCMP Cpl. Dean Muir and his police dog Lar were called around 8:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Muir said Wednesday that it was dark and about 10 C as he and Lar embarked on what would be their deepest search into the Wastelands, more than four kilometres from Weigles Road.

Muir took Lar to the area the woman was last seen and the dog discovered the woman in about 40 minutes.

She was partially clothed, lying on her side in dense brush at the bottom of a steep slope. She was not responsive and had gone into seizures by the time police arrived.

"You probably wouldn't have found her body. Unless you were within a metre, you wouldn't have seen her," said Muir on Wednesday. "She would have died by midnight. Guaranteed."

Police officers wrapped her in their patrol jackets before search and rescue crews used pulled her out with ropes. The woman was treated for hypothermia but was otherwise not seriously injured.

Other recent efforts by Lar include drug searches and tracking break-in suspects. The German shepherd has worked with Muir for eight years but will retire from police work soon.

"It's nice to know you saved a life," said Muir.

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