Man rescued after three months in Quebec forest

(QMI Agency, file)

(QMI Agency, file)

Marc Pigeon and Camille Laurin, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:15 PM ET

MATAGAMI, Que. — Police have rescued a canoeist who was stranded in a Quebec forest for more than three months after a bear ate his food.

Marco Lavoie, 44, was airlifted by helicopter Wednesday from Lake Matagami, a remote area of northwestern Quebec about 250 km south of James Bay.

He had left for the solo trip on July 16 and was supposed to be gone for three months.

When he didn't call in, loved ones became worried and a friend filed a missing person's report with Quebec provincial police on Oct. 21

Lavoie was located on the second day of a chopper search, alive, but with hypothermia and barely able to speak.

"He only had a few more days to live," said a source familiar with the case. "This thing is almost like a movie script."

Police spotted him on the edge of a lake, but were not initially able to land their helicopter. They finally found a place to land some distance away from the lake.

"They had to carry him on their backs for two kilometres," said Sgt. Claude Denis.

Lavoie is currently hospitalized in "very serious" condition. He'll probably be fed intravenously for weeks until he can relearn to eat solid food.

His camp was attacked by a bear in early August. The experienced woodsman wasn't injured, but the animal ate his food and damaged his equipment.

Lavoie was forced to survive in the forest with temperatures often below freezing.

Andre-Francois Bourbeau, author of four books on surviving the wilderness, said trust in his friends might have kept Lavoie alive.

"What kept him alive is probably hope," said Bourbeau. "He knew his friend had been advised of his return date. He waited for the date to pass, telling himself that someone would come for him."

Lavoie's is one of many Canadian survival stories over the years.

In June, high school students on a survival education trip in northern Ontario rescued a couple who had been stranded for days in the deep bush.

In December 2012, Manitoba hunter Brad Lambert was found after spending three weeks lost in the bush in southeastern Manitoba.

And in April 2011, Rita Chretien of Penticton, B.C., was found near death after surviving seven weeks in the Nevada wilderness by eating candy and melted snow. Her husband Albert died trying to find help.

 


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