News » Whistler

Lucky' rescue saves mountain biker



Kevan Shaler and John Barber had just sat down at the Longhorn on Saturday to watch the hockey came, when a young woman burst into the bar, covered in blood. She ran up to the bartender, Sean "Chavez" Holmes, and said her boyfriend had crashed on his mountain bike in the park and was dying.

They called 911, and Joey Gibbons, the Longhorn general manager grabbed the first aid kit. The girl then hurried back outside, got on her bike and rode off.

Shaler caught the words "Dirt Merchant" before she ran out, and knew that the biker was in serious trouble – it’s a new run that’s not on any trail maps, and it sits higher than midway station on the outer perimeter of the bike park. It was also starting to get dark and the temperature was dropping.

"Kevan said ‘if he’s up there, we’ve got to go and help.’ We saw all the blood and since she didn’t look injured we guessed that she was trying to resuscitate the guy," said Barber.

They went to follow the girl, who rode towards the Westin, but she was gone.

Armed with their cell phones, and the Longhorn first aid kit, they turned back and started to run up the mountain access road into the bike park.

What followed was what Barber calls "a magical combination of circumstances" that led to a successful rescue.

On the way up the mountain, they were picked up by Gibbons, who had gotten his 4x4 truck. Shaler was the only member of the party who knew where the run was, and was giving directions.

Around the midstation area, they ran into a pair of Whistler-Blackcomb snowmakers on ATVs. After flagging them down and explaining the situation, Shaler went with them to find the mountain biker.

Immediately afterwards, Gibbons and Barber received a call back from 911 dispatch that the paramedics and members of Whistler Fire Rescue service were at the bottom of the mountain.

They were instructed to drive back down the mountain to pick up the rescuers, and bring them back to the site. All of the parties kept in touch using cellular phones, and all members of the search party were kept in the loop.

They reached the bottom of the mountain, where they were joined by Brian Finestone, the mountain safety manager, who was driving one of the bike park ambulances.

Three trucks were heading back up the mountain to continue the search when they got a call from Shaler on Gibbons’ phone that they had found the mountain biker.