A missing Mayo man has safely returned to the village after spending four days lost in the bush.
Vernon Ball, 44, walked into the village on Friday night. A resident who was passing by recognized Ball and took him to the local health centre, a RCMP press release says.
Ball was last seen on Monday morning, leaving his home for work. His family reported him missing.
Ball had left his home to be alone, said Cpl. Chris Hutchings with the Mayo RCMP. But he got lost, and “was travelling around in circles,” said Hutchings. Ball survived by eating plants and starting fires with his cigarette lighter.
Upon his return, Ball was exhausted and treated for dehydration. He had no serious injuries.
Many Mayo residents helped search for Ball, whether by looking themselves or supporting the searchers. Police officers from Dawson City and Whitehorse joined the Mayo detachment in the search, and a police dog from British Columbia was brought up. Boats and an airplane were also used.
“One way or the other, everybody was involved,” said Ed Champion, chief of the Na-cho Nyak Dun. The co-operation between the village, the First Nation and the RCMP was “uplifting for the community,” he said.
There were 130 volunteers searching for Ball. This doesn’t include police or conservation officers, or pilots from Wildfire Management. On the third day of the search, over 20 volunteers arrived from Pelly Crossing without being asked, said Hutchings.
It was a lot of work, said Margrit Wozniak, the village’s chief administrative officer. Bushwhacking and fending off mosquitoes could be “tough going,” she said, “but everyone was happy and willing to do it to find Vernon.” She has spoken with his family, and he is doing well, said Wozniak.
And he returned at a celebratory time, the evening before the village’s annual arts festival.
“Everybody was smiling and hugging each other, tears of happiness,” Wozniak said of the event.
“Everywhere you looked, it just was a great day.”
Contact Meagan Gillmore at firstname.lastname@example.org