Officials warn of avalanche danger after 4 snowmobilers die in 2 days
Published Tuesday, March 15, 2016 12:27PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, March 16, 2016 10:28AM EDT
Backcountry snowmobilers in British Columbia are being warned about ripe conditions for avalanches following the deaths of four people since Sunday.
Three men died Monday evening, including two from Alberta swept up in a slide near Blue River, B.C., near the Alberta border. The two were part of a group of seven experienced sledders, according to the RCMP.
Five were able to avoid the avalanche and they dug out the buried men with rescue gear they were carrying. But the pair did not respond to CPR efforts.
The names of the victims were not released.
A third man was killed a few hours later while riding alone on Mount Mackie near Castlegar. The 45-year-old man was found partially buried by friends who went looking for him when he was late returning home.
All three bodies were recovered Tuesday by rescue crews aided by an RCMP helicopter.
A fourth snowmobiler was killed Sunday near Crowfoot Mountain, about 90 kilometres northeast of Kamloops. The avalanche death toll is 13 this season in Western Canada, including 12 snowmobilers and one skier. The average is 12 fatalities.
Avalanche Canada recently warned that, historically, March is the most deadly month for avalanches.
The sunshine may draw the sledders but it also weakens the snowpack. Fresh dustings of snow hide the danger.
“We’re in the height of avalanche season right now,” said Ilya Storm, programs manager of the public avalanche warning service at Avalanche Canada in Revelstoke, B.C.
He said anyone hitting the snowmobile trails must be trained, educated and prepared with rescue equipment.
“Although it may not be frequent avalanches, they’re likely to be large and (have) the potential to catch many people by surprise.”
With files from CTV’s Janet Dirks and The Canadian Press