Respect road closures, say RCMP, after search and rescue of stranded travellers

Seven overdue travellers were ‘stranded’ on winter road system near MacKay Lake

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Yellowknife RCMP are reminding residents to respect winter road closures after a search and rescue operation located multiple overdue travellers, including a child, stranded on the winter road system near MacKay Lake, say police.

Three groups of travellers, some from the Tlicho region and some from the Yellowknife area, were located Tuesday unharmed and without any reports of injuries after Yellowknife RCMP launched a search and rescue effort earlier that day.

The MacKay Lake area is about 250 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife.

Mounties received reports of overdue travellers around 8 a.m. Tuesday from the GNWT and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR). The overdue parties were believed to be travelling “on, or near the now-closed Winter Road Joint Venture,” which leads to the diamond mines.

The condition of the winter road, impacted by recent warm weather, coupled with concerns about temperatures that were due to plummet overnight, police say there was an “urgency to locate” the overdue travellers.

After deploying a helicopter to the MacKay Lake area around 10:45 a.m. Tuesday, a search of the area located “two parties” around 2:30 p.m. They were found on an access road east of MacKay Lake. Four adults and one child were transported via helicopter by RCMP.

The remaining overdue travellers were later retrieved on a winter road just south of Lockhart Lake. Police state they were able to return to Yellowknife on “their own accord.” They weren’t injured during the ordeal.

The Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road Joint Venture has been closed since March 31.

“We are thankful the overdue travellers were located without incident, and returned to the Yellowknife area,” stated RCMP spokesperson Marie York-Condon in a news release.

“We cannot impress enough, the need for travellers to respect winter road closures and avoid travelling on the closed roads.”

RCMP thanked the GNWT, ENR, Great Slave Helicopters and Acasta Heliflight for assisting in the search and rescue operation.

“RCMP ask all travellers to respect the closing of the winter roads and avoid travelling on them,” added York-Condon.