Detailed Accident Report
Submitted By: Frank W. Baumann
Place: Wild Horse Creek, near Cranbrook
Summary: 5 snowmobiles caught, 1 killed, 1 injured
From the Cranbrook Daily Townsman newspaper
By Gerry Warner
"My sled is for sale."
Those were the words of 28-year-old Cranbrook resident Bryce Corner
Wednesday as he lay flat on his fractured back in the emergency room of
Cranbrook Regional Hospital after being buried
up to his neck in an avalanche that took the life of one of his
The victim Craig George Cameron, 42, was not wearing a Pieps transmitter
and was buried in snow for more than three hours before being found dead
by a Cranbrook Search and Rescue team.
The three other survivors were Harvey Sims, 50, Clint Habart, 28, and
Barry Shinger, 34, all from Cranbrook.
Corner said he and his four companions "were just cruising along below
these bowls, avalanche chutes I guess" and decided to go up one. Two of
his companions drove their machines up the
chute, but Corner didn't make it the first time he tried, he said.
"I went back up again and Clint and Craig were waiting at the bottom and
I was just giving 'er all the way up, sidehilling and all of a sudden I
was running out of power so I went to turn around
and go down the hill and the whole snow was moving under me everywhere
and I thought , oh what am I going to do now.
"It was huge. I couldn't believe it. So I just pinned it. Going down, I
thought I would just jump it and keep on going and I'd have a chance,"
Corner said his last memory was falling off the sled.
"I just remember rolling and rolling and rolling and the snow was down
my throat. I was puking it up to breathe and I just remembered all these
little tips like trying to swim to the top. I kept
trying that, but I couldn't breathe. So I kept trying to pull myself to
the top and I ended up at the bottom (of the slope) neck deep."
Corner said one of his companions, who had remained at the bottom, dug
him out. "It took him about 10 minutes and I was just screaming. It was
cold. I couldn't move my legs and I thought I
was paralyzed. I didn't know where I was. I just knew that I was hurt."
Corner said he lay on the snow for about an hour before the helicopter
arrived. Even that was a scary experience. "There was a bunch of chutes
around the side of us that I thought might go and
there was no way to get away from them."
Corner said some of his companions were at the same slopes two days
earlier and described the conditions as great. "But it was a northward
facing slope and they are the worst, O.K. So anyway,
I got 'er."
The 28-year-old logger said he was wearing a Pieps and had a probe and a
shovel in his sled. The others had the same equipment except for Craig,
he said. "I never rode with him much and I
don't think he had a Pieps on cause the guys were pretty upset about
Corner said the five left their trucks about 11 a.m. on the morning of
the accident. "We just barely got there and started chewing this hill
and that's when it happened.
He said it wasn't the first time he rode his snowmobile in a slide. But
the slide described by search and rescue personnel as 600 feet by 150
feet was by far the worst, he said. "This was a monster
and there was no riding it."
Corner said driving up steep slopes, sometimes referred to as "high
marking" was part of the sport of snowmobiling. "You want to go up and
climb these cause that's the fun. You don't want to
ride around on a trail."
Meanwhile Big Horn Helicopters owner Clay Wilson, who flew Corner and
the avalanche victim out from the slide site, said it's absolutely
essential to wear a Peips in the back country at all
"I wear one even when I'm flying."
Wilson said conditions are particularly bad this year. "It's been one of
those winters when the snow is just like sugar. Then last week we had
heavy snow on top of it and that's really dangerous."
Doctor Joe Kotlarz said Corner appeared to have a fractured back and was
sent for a CT scan after being stabilized. Cranbrook Search and Rescue
and Big Horn Helicopters did a "fantastic" job
of getting Corner out alive, he said.
Prior to being sent for the CT scan, Corner was visited by his mother
and brother. Asked what he said to his mother, he replied, "You were
right, mom. She hates stuff like that. I'm a little haywire
with everything and she said it will catch you one day. It did, and I'm
just lucky I'm here now."