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Missing Macleod couple found in remote cabin

Jacob and Anja Oosterwyjk were reported missing by family members

The Oosterwyjks were travelling in a 1997 dark green Honda CRV with Alberta licence plate BCC7195.

A Fort Macleod couple missing since Saturday was found at 4 p.m. Tuesday in a cabin in a remote area in Bow River.
Jacob and Anja Oosterwijk were flown by helicopter to hospital for evaluation after using a radio in a cabin to contact Elk Valley RCMP.
The Oosterwijks left Fort Macleod at 11:30 a.m. Saturday for a day trip to the Fernie area and did not return.
RCMP Inspector Joe McGeough in a news release said Anja Oosterwijk said their vehicle became stuck and they were stranded.
“Apparently, after becoming stuck, the two were able to locate a cabin with a radio and make the call for assistance,” McGeough said.
McGeough said the radio transmission was very broken and police got few details, but a helicopter sent to the area located the couple.
“Her husband had an injured knee, but otherwise were okay,” McGeough said.
Earlier Tuesday afternoon the Oosterwijk family at a news conference at the Fort Macleod RCMP detachment expressed their appreciation for the community’s support.
“There are so many people supporting us,” the Oosterwijks’ daughter Gerdine said Tuesday. “They give us all a lot of strength.”
An aerial and ground search took place for the couple who were believed lost off main roads between Pincher Creek and Fernie.
Gerdine Oosterwijk said her family was optimistic Jacob and Anja would be found in good health.
“I’m worried they’re hurt, but I just think that they’re stuck and waiting in the car,” Gerdine said.
Gerdine Oosterwijk said her parents usually take day trips to Waterton and the Porcupine Hills but set out Saturday for their first trip to Fernie.
“They just wanted to go somewhere else,” Gerdine said.
McGeough said at Tuesday’s press conference there was a confirmed sighting of the couple Saturday about 2:30 p.m. in the Frank Slide area in the Crowsnest Pass. The RCMP are investigating a report the couple was spotted later Saturday in Fernie.
Search and rescue crews and RCMP helicopters conducted ground and aerial searches in Alberta and B.C. McGeough said mountains, rivers, trees and snow made it challenging.
People from Fort Macleod and district, including Jacob’s co-workers at Structural Truss, joined the search.
“I never expected that many people looking for my parents,” Gerdine said. “That gives us strength and hope.”
Family members from Holland are in Fort Macleod supporting the five Oosterwijk children, who range in age from six to 22 years.
A Facebook page titled “Searching for the Oosterwijks” started Monday

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5 Comments For This Post

  1. Dick Goudswaard Says:

    Thank God they survived

  2. Y Trainer Says:

    I have been following this story partly because I was raised in Southern Alberta and partly because it’s a story with human interest. While I am glad the couple was found safe, I think they should be made responsible for half the cost of the search and rescue. There are many of us born and raised in Canada, left without jobs even though we are highly educated and willing to work, while this couple wastes $30000-50,000, because they didn’t take time to learn about the area and how dangerous it can be this time of year. I was particularly upset by the man’s remark that he would again take risks. He didn’t quite put it that way, but he might as well have done so. They also risked the lives of other people who were searching for them and created severe stress for the rest of their family and their church. (Interesting too, the liquour bottles on the table, at their home. Those weren’t just wine bottles.) The woman seemed the most sensible of the two, and I suspect she will be cautious. Again, I think the fairest thing would be for them to have to pay half the money for the rescue and to pay for the several days of free vacation at the Texas Ranch cabin. It might have been a cold vacation, but they chose it so why shouldn’t the ranch get return for it? Also, there is a question in the back of my mind about the authenticity of the story–the last box opened was a radio etc., and the radio worked after a winter of damp cold weather, and the woman chose to use it at a certain time. Also, given that the weather in that area was likely below zero at night, how did they keep from getting frost bite? A brisk walk is two miles per hour, but they were walking through heavy snow up to their knees, according to the online reports, so how did they walk 18 miles in ten hours. Something doesn’t quite add up here. Again, I do have empathy for the people who worried about them and for their children, who may well suffer the long-term consequences of this, but I question some of the things that they have stated and their situation. It makes for an intriguing story, but I found the ending with the church people standing in front of their house celebrating the horrendous cost of this event to taxpayers, celebrating the stress to their children, etc. as a bit too much. With the four girls dressed to meet the cameras several times per day, and the story itself, it seems made for drama rather than real life.

  3. concerned Says:

    I just need to address a couple of the points from Y Trainer. First of all, and I think most importantly we need to remember that we all make mistakes and bad choices sometimes. Sometimes these wrong choices don’t become a big deal but sometimes they do, like this time. And yes many people helped and were involved with the search or did whatever they could do to help but I think most people were happy to do so. The bottom line here is that this could have been a very tragic story and most of us are just SO happy that it turned out well that we don’t want to judge them for their actions, I’m sure they’ve learned a few lessons and probably many other people as well, we just need to be thankful that it didn’t turn out way worse. And the comments about the authenticity of the story couldn’t be more wrong. Maybe you (Y Trainer) with your quick and harsh judgements never make any wrong choices but I’m happy to know that we live in a place where people band together to help others in need, because of wrong decisions or not.

  4. Totally thrilled Says:

    To Y Trainer….when did money become more important then human life? When the male man said he would go out there again you forgot to mention all the things he said he would do different. Another clarification, when all the people gathered on their lawn ( it was not just church people, it was community members and neighbors as well) they were not celebrating all the things you mentioned, they were celebrating the return of friends, mom and dad,neighbors, and dear people. I am sure all those people who gathered to welcome them back would very willing pay all the expenses. Our dear friends are more important and worth a whole bunch more then any amount of money! And I hope and believe that you would be of the same convictions if these were your family members or friends. As for the radio working in the middle of the winter they say that when batteries warm up they frequently have some left over juices. For some of the other things you mentioned I believe you should talk with this couple to get some more information to make things clearer for you. There are times in life when we come somewhere we hadn’t planned or expected to be, that’s when we need our friends and family and community the most. Glad these dear people had that kind of support! I personally am THRILLED to have them back!

  5. MarlinF Says:

    I believe most citizens of Alberta do not have a problem with costs associated with cases such as the Oosterwijks recovery. I think if you look at every case of recovery you will find human error is generally the prevelant reason these things happen and to suggest via your armchair(Y Trainer) that this is “made up drama” is austentaciously preposperous.Who would want to walk thru the night thru knee deep snow in bear country and live off a little sugar and melted snow just to get some attention. On another note the money and resources spent by common citizens covering 20,000 sq kilometres needs a fair mention also and was done with willingness and I believe not one regret was mentioned.Hats off to the culmination of common citizens,Pincher Creek SARS and the RCMP.