On Monday morning around 8.00 AM the Dutch Caribbean Police Force (KPCN) on Saba was notified that 4 persons (one female and three males) were feared missing. A preliminary investigation showed that the four hikers of American and Canadian origin were missing since Sunday. The Dutch Caribbean Police Force in collaboration with the Fire Department and the Saba Conservation Foundation carried an extensive search for the missing persons. The search extended well into the night and around 9.00 PM the hikers were found.
From all indication the hike started on Sunday afternoon on Mary’s Point Trail from where the hikers veered off the trail ending up in a ravine on the North East coast known as the Well’s Bay Gut. Relatives of two hikers called after attempts to contact them had fail. This signaled that something was wrong. Immediately upon being notified the hikers were missing a meeting was held at the Fire Station in the Bottom to establish how the emergency services would handle the search and rescue.
Local Commander of the Saba Fire Department, Mr. Julio Every, was appointed leader for the search & rescue mission. Three teams were formed consisting of members of the Police Department, Fire Department and the Saba Conservation Foundation. Experienced hiker with extensive knowledge of Saba trails, Peter Johnson, was asked to join the operation. The help of the owner of a drone, Mr. Chris Meijvogel, was also enlisted. This equipment was used to do a fly over to help emergency services establish in which area to focus the search. Throughout the search Island Governor Jonathan Johnson was kept abreast of the progress. Harbour Master, Travis Johnson and Saba Bank Management Unit assisted in the search by boat
In the early afternoon the first two hikers were found and they roughly described where the other two were. They had veered off the track and were in a precarious position on the cliff. The search party found the last two hikers after a few hours in the late afternoon. After assessing the area where they were it was evident that ladders and other rescue gear would be needed to get them down. The search then turned into rescue and with the help of the guides and the gear the two were safely returned to the trail head at around 8:50 PM. The hikers were very tired but thankful to have been rescued. All four persons went to the A.M. Edwards Medical Center for observation. They were treated for minor bruises and released.
Leader of the search and rescue mission, Julio Every, stated that the signposting on the Mary’s Point trail was in good order. Manager of the Saba Conservation Foundation, Kai Wulf, is advising first time hikers planning to go on the trails managed by the Saba Conservation Foundation to first establish contact with the Trail Shop for proper instruction and trail condition updates. ”Due to the dangerous terrain, the entire North Coast trail is closed, including Mary’s Point and should only be accessed with a professional guide” stated Wulf.
Island Governor Jonathan Johnson stated, “Although we proudly boast our trails we always recommend that hikers let others know when they are going and when they can be expected to return and where they are going. There are also a number of trails which are only recommended to go on with a guide. The Saba Conservation Foundation provides this information and we implore everyone to be safe. The emergency services and volunteers who assisted with the search and rescue are to be commended for their teamwork. Saba may seem small but we must never underestimate her landscape and risky terrain”.