T.O. man died testing wilderness survival skills
Published Thursday, March 4, 2010 2:32PM EST
A Toronto man found dead in the Muskoka wilderness was testing survival skills he may have learned from watching a reality show and reading books.
Richard Code, 41, left Thursday to test his survival skills in the Ontario bush. He was found dead Monday in a snowy, marshy forest north of Huntsville. He had ventured out on a four-day trip with only an axe, basic fishing gear, and the clothes on his back.
Barbara Ellis, who was a family friend and landlord to Code, told CTV Toronto that he was an avid fan of the Outdoor Life Network show "Survivorman."
"He wouldn't miss a program," she said.
The show follows Canadian survival expert Les Stroud who spends seven days in remote locations with little equipment.
Stroud's website says he treks through the wild with no food, shelter, water, tools, or camera crew.
It is not clear whether Code had formal wilderness training but Ellis showed CTV Toronto highlighted pages from survival books including Stroud's.
She said Code would study the books for hours at a time.
"Richard admired him greatly, and he always saw his shows, so he got a lot of his information out of these books," she said.
She said Code would use what he learned in the books to make shelters in the summer using branches and bark.
"He would strip tree bark off the tree in the backyard, and he'd weave them and braid them like rope," she said.
Ellis said Code went on four previous trips without a tent or food, but she was especially nervous about what would turn out to be his final trip to the Huntsville area.
"He's come back from all these other survival trips but I knew this time he was going up into a snowstorm and I wasn't very happy about that," she said.
She said Code would take precautions before going out alone, including notifying police of his exact location and bringing a survival checklist with him.
Code planned to return Sunday. He left Ellis a note to call police if he did not come home by Monday morning.
His cause of death is still unknown, but Code's brother Stephen said OPP told him Richard likely died from hypothermia.
Ellis said an autopsy will be performed Friday in Bracebridge.
She said Code died doing what he loved.
"Survival skills to Richard are like what hockey is to other men," she said. "It was his passion. He loved it."
Peter Demos, who owns a wilderness supplies store in Muskoka, told CTV Toronto that even experienced survivalists need to take precautions in the cold to avoid freezing to death.
"You can die of hypothermia if you get wet, regardless of the temperature," he said.
The temperature in the area dropped to -12C during the time that Code was missing.