A member of Mission Search and Rescue tends to injured hiker Ewa Kreczman, who fell during a day outing at Cascade Falls. Her husband Artur Siewierski saw her fall and thought he had lost her forever. / Artur Siewierski Photo

A member of Mission Search and Rescue tends to injured hiker Ewa Kreczman, who fell during a day outing at Cascade Falls. Her husband Artur Siewierski saw her fall and thought he had lost her forever. / Artur Siewierski Photo

‘I’ve never been so scared in my life’: Hiker recounts wife’s rescue from Mission falls

Artur Siewierski wants to fundraise for Mission Search and Rescue Society after desperate rescue

Artur Siewierski had his back turned when he heard his wife scream as she plummeted off the ledge. She had slipped on the rocks, and a simple hike had just turned into a nightmare.

“I started screaming, ‘Are you OK?! Are you OK?!’ She wouldn’t move. She wouldn’t say a word,” Siewierski said. “At that moment, I thought she had died, and I’ve never been so scared in my life.”

Siewierski and wife Ewa Kreczman, both experienced hikers from Maple Ridge, had planned an hour-long hike at Mission’s Cascade Falls on Nov. 22 with their four-month-old border collie, Mavi. At one point, they decided to hike off-trail and had no difficulties in the ascent, but the terrain became “nasty” on their last 100 metres down.

Rainy weather had turned the forest floor wet and muddy, with Kreczman slipping a few times on the moss, Siewierski said. When they arrived at a vertical ledge with a 10-metre drop on to a steep declining slope, he said they tried to get back to the regular trails.

MORE: Teenage girls rescued from Cascade Falls

But Siewierski said they weren’t sure exactly how. He found a little path “basically the width of your foot” that would traverse them along around five metres of vertical rock face.

Crossing first, he removed any loose rocks and asked his wife to pass him Mavi by using a harness. As he was setting the puppy down, he heard his wife scream.

He described briefly catching a glimpse of her falling “like a rock” and rolling another 30 metres down.

“I was shaking, standing there on the ledge holding on to the rocks, with another hand on the dog,” Siewierski said. “If anything happened to me, I couldn’t help her. If both of us die, then our daughter would be left alone.”

He carefully made his way down, tied up the puppy and started searching, screaming out for her and receiving no answer.

When Siewierski eventually found her wedged underneath a large downed tree – which, he said, had prevented her from rolling to the creek below and hitting the rocks – she was whispering, “Just take care of our daughter.”

“I said, ‘There’s no way you’re dying on me. There is no way. I’m not letting you die.’”

Kreczman was bleeding from her head, had a large green bruise on the entire left side of her face, had a broken tooth, couldn’t move and told him she thought the left side of her body was completely broken, Siewierski said.

He said she started shivering “frantically” and seemed to be in shock. When he retrieved Mavi, the puppy immediately recognized Kreczman’s situation and began to “use his little body to cuddle her and give her some warmth.”

Siewierski said he squeezed her legs and arms to make sure there was still feeling in them, and started stripping off his clothes to give her more warmth and put pressure on her head where it was bleeding. He checked his phone, saw he had a faint signal, and called 911.

Mission Search and Rescue Society (MSAR) crews arrived at the Cascade Falls parking lot within 30 minutes, but it took another hour before they were found, Siewierski said, and Kreczman’s condition seemed to be getting worse.

He said he considered leaving to go and search for them, but his wife was afraid to be left alone.

“She was deteriorating … She could barely speak. She was telling me that she was dying,” he said. “I was desperate … I started screaming ‘Help!’ ”

MSAR crews eventually heard his cries, and the first two rescuers arrived shortly afterwards, Siewierski said. He said one immediately tended to Kreczman, while the other started communicating with the rest of the team.

Siewierski said Mavi had become extremely protective of Kreczman and did not want to let any of the crews near her, forcing him to pull back and watch from a distance.

“I’ve never seen a border collie so aggressive. He was trying to protect my wife,” he said. “The little guy knew he didn’t have a chance with these guys … But he was like a wolf.”

Within 15 minutes, a crew of at least 12 rescuers was present, and Siewierski said it was amazing to watch them work as a team. Each crew member had a designated job and did not waste time putting together a plan to evacuate Kreczman.

She was eventually loaded on a stretcher, airlifted out by helicopter to the parking lot and driven by paramedics to Abbotsford Regional Hospital.

She suffered a bad concussion, a cracked vertebrae with a compressed disc and a broken thumb, and required stitches on her head, but had no internal injuries.

Siewierski said the doctor was shocked that Kreczman sustained only the injuries she did, and said he had seen much worse results from shorter falls.

Siewierski said he was so impressed and so thankful for the work that the MSAR volunteers displayed that he plans to make a donation to the society, and even wants to help them fundraise in some way.

“They rely basically on public funding. They get money from the government, but it’s not that much,” he said.

“It’s very important for people to recognize our heroes for what they do from the goodness of their hearts.”


@portmoodypigeon
patrick.penner@missioncityrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

HikingMissionSearch and Rescue

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

The  couple's four month old border collie, Mavi. Artur Siewierski photo.

MSAR

The ledge that Ewa Kreczman fell from. Siewierski had taken a photo shortly before the incident.

WEB

Just Posted

COVID-19 virus (file photo).
COVID cases recorded at 5 Langley schools

14 schools remain on Fraser Health exposure list

Trinity Western University’s Student Association organized a celebration parade for graduating students Saturday, April 10, 2021. (Trinity Western University/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
University student association hosts grad parade at Langley campus

Students honoured with special Saturday event

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July, 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Judge to rule on final witness in Langley child murder trial

The trial of KerryAnn Lewis has lasted far longer than expected

Basmodi protest on Saturday, April 10 at Aldergrove Community Secondary School. (Special to The Star)
‘Basmodi Wave’ protesters in support of Indian farmers demonstrate at Aldergrove school

200 pairs of shoes were on display, one for every protester killed in India

10th-anniversary edition of Cruise for Your Cause will benefit Aldergrove and Langley food banks. (Special to The Star)
Three Langley-area food banks to be visited by convoy delivering donations

10th anniversary edition of Cruise for Your Cause happening Saturday, April 24

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. sees 873 more COVID-19 cases Tuesday, decline continues

Hospitalizations up to 377, two more deaths for 1,515 total

In a 2019 photograph, Yin Yin Din held a picture of her brother Kyaw Naing Din, 54, and her late father Hla Din who passed away in 2014, during a trip to Victoria. (The News files)
Family of B.C. man killed by cop appeals to Attorney General for help

The Din family want B.C. Attorney General David Eby to forward their case to Crown

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Of 46 arrests made between March 16 and 19 at Metrotown mall in Burnaby, 27 suspected shoplifters are now facing charges. (Twitter/Burnaby RCMP)
RCMP arrest 46 people in 4 days during Metrotown shoplifting crackdown

$4,800 in stolen merchandise was recovered and returned to businesses inside of the mall

Kao Macaulay has been charged in relation to a home break-in on March 30 in Abbotsford in which five kittens were stolen. (Facebook photo)
‘Prolific offender’ charged with theft of 5 newborn kittens in Abbotsford

Kao Macaulay, 23, is accused of breaking into home on March 30

Sheila Malcolmson, B.C.’s minister of mental health and addictions (Screen shot)
Minister of mental health tells Surrey audience COVID-19 ‘has made everything worse’

More than 23,000 people in B.C. are receiving medication to treat opioid addiction

Most Read