'Survivorman' Les Stroud says B.C. murder suspects' chance of survival depends on skill
As the intense manhunt continues in northern Manitoba for two young men wanted in connection with three B.C. homicides, survivalist Les Stroud says the suspects’ chances of staying alive depends on their skill level.
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Heavily-armed police officers from across the country have descended on the northern community of Gillam, Man. in search of 19-year-old Kam McLeod and 18-year-old Bryer Schmegelsky.
Authorities initially suspected that the pair may have fled into the thick, swampy wilderness that surrounds the community. But on Friday, RCMP said that it’s possible that someone “inadvertently” helped the suspects leave the area.
If the teenagers are hiding out in the wilderness, they’ll need to be prepared for harrowing conditions if they hope to survive, according to Stroud, the star of the television show “Survivorman.”
“If they are completely uninitiated into what it’s like to be out in the bush at this time of year, in the kind of bush that they’re in, then they can be up against horrific situations,” Stroud told CTV News Channel on Friday. “On the other hand, if they’re highly skilled, they grew up hunting and fishing and tripping out in the woods, they may know a great deal of how to handle what’s going on out there.
“It will come down to what their past skill level is, but again if their past skill level is scant, then you have thousands of opportunities for it to go very wrong for them,” Stroud explained.
Officers from the western provinces and Ontario were in the Gillam area to search for the teenagers on Thursday. RCMP Cpl. Julie Courchaine said there were two confirmed sightings of the teens before an SUV police believe they had used to drive to Gillam was found burned out on Monday.
Courchaine also noted the unforgiving terrain.
“There’s lots of dense bush, forests, swampy areas so it is very challenging,” Courchaine said during a press conference on Thursday.
In terms of how long a semi-experienced person can survive in the sticks, Stroud said there are a lot of “variables” at play.
“It’s actually quite brutal. It’s one thing to camp, it’s one thing to have kit. It’s another thing to just be trying to exist and survive,” the survivalist said. “This is not the Cook Islands. You can’t walk over to a coconut tree or swim in the ocean and gather some clams. It doesn’t work like that.”
Stroud said several things come into play and whether the suspects have “hunting implements and ways to get out the rain, away from the bugs?”
“That changes everything, so a lot of variables.”
Gillam Mayor Dwayne Forman also noted the insect problem saying the bugs “are atrocious through swamps,” while the RCMP has acknowledge the conditions have been difficult for police officers as well.
The suspects each face a charge of second-degree murder in the death of a 64-year-old Vancouver man. They are wanted on Canada-wide warrants in connection with the shooting deaths of Australian Lucas Fowler, 23, and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese, 24, whose bodies were found on the side of the Alaska Highway in northern B.C.
With files from CTVNews.ca’s Jackie Dunham and Graham Slaughter