Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 1998-11-13
Submitted By: WWAN
Place: Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park
State: BC
Country: CANADA
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 6 caught in 2 seperate avalanches, 1 missing and presumed drowned

Provided by;

Evan Manners

Manager, Canadian Avalanche Centre

Incident at Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park, November 13, 1998. Small (Est. Class 2) wet avalanche struck a group of hikers, carrying 3 of them into a lake at the toe of the path. Two were able to swim back to shore, the third was last seen by witnesses struggling in the water, and is presumed drowned. The surviving victims spent the night out, and were rescued by helicopter the following morning, and suffered only minor injuries and mild hypothermia. Efforts to reach the site again with rescue divers has been prevented by poor weather.

Canadian Avalanche Centre


NOVEMBER 15, 17:44 EST

Ex-Prime Minister's Son Feared Dead

NELSON, British Columbia (AP) ? Poor weather and the risk of further snowslides delayed the search Sunday for former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's the youngest son, believed killed when he was swept into an icy lake by an avalanche.

Michel Trudeau, 23, was on a back-country ski expedition Friday when he was thrown into Kokanee Lake in the Kootenay Mountains of southeast British Columbia. The two other skiers with Trudeau survived.

A team of police divers was ready to search for his body once weather conditions permitted. But rain and low clouds prevented authorities from dispatching helicopters to the site of the avalanche, which is inaccessible by overland vehicle.

Cpl. Randy Koch of the Mounties' local detachment said he had spoken by telephone with Pierre Trudeau.

``He's deeply shaken by this,'' Koch said. ``He was very quiet, but he told us to go on to recover the body.''

Three hikers were walking along the same ridge behind Michel Trudeau's group when the avalanche struck.

They tried to help, but were swept away themselves by a second avalanche.

One of the hikers, Paul Williamson, said Trudeau was ``still alive, shouting for help and groaning. We could see him. But we couldn't reach him. He was in the middle of the lake.''

After digging themselves out, the hikers had to walk about four miles in soggy clothing to reach their car and drive to seek help.

Michel Trudeau had visited the area earlier this year with his father and one of his brothers. He was an avid skier and hiker, and had worked as a ski lift attendant in the Kootenay Mountains last winter.

Prime Minister Jean Chretien called Pierre Trudeau from Singapore to express his condolences.

``Mr. Trudeau is a man who doesn't easily express his emotions,'' Chretien told Radio-Canada. ``But his tone of voice was heavy and it was obvious he must have been suffering enormously.''

The former prime minister, who held power from 1968 to 1984 except for a nine-month gap, has two other sons, Sacha and Justin. He and the boys' mother, Margaret, are divorced.