Teen hiker missing in Golden Ears Park emerges from forest after 54-hour search

The search for Esther Wang in Golden Ears Park in Maple Ridge is over, with the 16-year-old emerging from the wilderness after a 54-hour search.

Staff Sgt. Keith Schendel says the hiker walked out into the east lot at Golden Ears Park around 9:30 p.m.

“Her parents had still been there from the day’s rescue efforts — they’ve been up there fairly continuously for the last couple of days — and she walked pretty much right into their arms.”

Schendel explains Wang took a wrong turn going down the mountain and lost her way, and then made her way back up the mountain while hiking off trail until she found a place to rest. He adds the hiker had food and water, so she spent two nights up the mountain before eventually finding her way.

“Today she came down the mountain and followed a waterway out to the path and came out into the east lot,” Schendel said.

Prior to losing her way, Wang was on a youth group hike with three other people Tuesday morning. According to Ridge Meadows RCMP, they had been following the East Canyon Trail to Steve’s Lookout.

“The group had gone out on a hike and they had gone up to the viewpoint but, on the return, there was a little bit of distance between the hikers. At some point along the way they determined Esther was missing and when they realized that, they turned around and backtracked along the trail,” said Corp. Jule Klaussner.

When she couldn’t be found, they hiked down to the ranger station and called the RCMP, sparking a search that continued into Tuesday night and through Wednesday before being suspended as darkness fell. Efforts continued Thursday morning.

A helicopter gets ready to take off in Golden Ears Park

Search and Rescue crews from across B.C. at Golden Ears Park searching for a missing teenager. (CityNews Image)

Klaussner says dozens of SAR members had been searching for the teen, supported by Talon Helicopters, but as of Wednesday night, there was no indication that any signs of her had been found.

In a Wednesday update, Ridge Meadows SAR manager Richard Laing said they had yet to find any sign of Wang or what happened to her.

“It’s fairly steep and there’s a lot of subalpine going into alpine terrain with lots of drainages,” he told CityNews.

Upon the hiker being found, Schendel says her parents are feeling very thankful.

“Her family wanted to make sure it was known to all the search and rescue efforts and all the emergency services that are involved. They’re extremely grateful for all the efforts that [were] taken to help,” he said.

Schendel adds she was checked out by paramedics and doesn’t have any serious injuries.

“She’s fine, just extremely fatigued and sore, bitten by mosquitoes. So she’s going to be taking some time to rest and then we’ll figure out in more detail exactly kind of where the wrong turns were taken and all that kind of stuff.”

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