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The rescue of Jack Wood, 1969

Arctic & Northern Biographies

The Whitehorse Star, Whitehorse, Yukon Territory - March 10, 1969

The rescue of Jack Wood, 1969

    Jack Wood is resting comfortably in Whitehorse General Hospital today with his nice new plaster cast, and he tells a matter-of-fact story about how he got there. But after the words sink in, it certainly isn't an ordinary tale,

    The Mayo man had been wolf-hunting since January, and with his partner Alan Serafinchin, made a cabin at Sheldon Lake, their base camp. Sheldon is about 90 miles from the settlement of Ross River, and the hunters were using motor toboggans to get around through the bush.

    About 1:30 Friday afternoon, Wood had ridden up the hillside from the lake when out of the corner of his eye, he saw what he thought was a wolf. So he stopped the machine, got off with his rifle and took another took. It wasn't a wolf.

    When he got back on the machine it wouldn't start immediately. So he did what he'd done a thousand times before, straddled it and kicked with his left foot to give it a start.

    Suddenly, the double track 370 caught with a roar and Wood's leg went with it, enmeshed in the metal track. It was no time for panic and Wood kept his head. He stopped the machine, cut through a belt, pried his twisted foot out of the metal and headed back to the cabin on his hands and knees, His left foot was twisted completely around, with raw bone extruding and plenty of blood.

    The hunter crawled nearly two miles through the snow, along the toboggan trail If he'd blundered off that narrow track, he'd have floundered in four feet of snow. The weather was freezing. He made it to the shore of the lake and his calls brought Serafinchin with a toboggan to carry him to the cabin,

    It was now about four o'clock. The injured man refused to let his partner try putting a splint on the leg, and was left with a package of aspirin and some penicillin tablets while Serafinchin took off for Ross River on the second motor toboggan. He followed the trail through the dark and arrived at the settlement at midnight hoping to get a plane to bring Wood out to hospital.

    As luck would have it, the GNA Beaver based at Ross River had been slightly damaged in an accidental fire, discovered only when pilot John Rolls went to start it up. New skis were put on for the merey flight.

    Woods was picked up Saturday at Sheldon Lake, flown to Anvil airstrip and transferred to the Aztec flown by pilot Lloyd Ryder and so to Whitehorse. It had been 28 hours from the time of the accident until he was in the emergency operating room at the Whitehorse General Hospital.

    Dr. Bill Buchan, who looked after Wood, says he has a "compound dislocation of the ankle" which sounds prosaic but is in some ways worse than a clean break. He lost the tip of one toe and the ankle is mangled but he'll walk again, and he's lucky not to have lost his foot. It might have been worse if hadn't been wearing felts, two pairs of heavy sox and his canvas skidoo boots, says Jim Wood.

    And anyway, the hunting was nearly over for this year.