Thursday, August 20, 2009

The legend of Ernie McLean grows . . .

It turns out that Ernie McLean found the searchers before they found him.
McLean, the former WHL coach who is so well known in the hockey community, went missing Sunday afternoon. He was spotted by a helicopter on Thursday shortly after 7 p.m.
On Sunday, while marking trees in preparation for building a road through thick brush, McLean, 76, apparently fell down a steep embankment, struck his head and became disoriented.
In that condition, and with neither food nor firearm, he got lost and wasn’t able to find his way back to his camp.
Over time, he saw the search planes and helicopters and was able to regain his bearings on Thursday. He made his way to a logging road where a helicopter spotted him and picked him up. At the time, he was about five kilometres from his camp.
McLean was taken to the medical centre in Dease Lake, where he was examined and released. He apparently spent Thursday evening at a friend’s home.
This was at least the second time McLean has gone missing and been the subject of a search.
On Sunday, April 18, 1971, McLean was piloting a plane that left The Pas, Man., at 8:35 p.m. CST. Ninety minutes later, McLean called the traffic tower at Yorkton, Sask., and asked for weather information.
The plane wasn’t heard from again. As it turned out, the plane crashed into a clump of trees about 10 p.m.
The next day, McLean was found by brothers Pete and Steve Chypyha on a rural road 15 miles northeast of Kamsack, Sask. McLean had been missing for about 20 hours.
McLean ended up in hospital in Regina after that crash. He suffered a broken jaw, lost the sight in one eye and had various cuts and bruises.
Such is the legend of Ernie (Punch) McLean that various reports this week had him missing for days in 1971 (or, as one report had it, in 1972) and wandering around the frozen Prairie terrain.
In truth, he went missing one day and was found the next.
As he once told me, “I happened to fly into the only tree for miles around on that stretch of Prairie!”
Surely, there was more to it than that. Here's hoping there's a book on the way.

  © Design byThirteen Letter

Back to TOP