Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2004-04-03
Submitted By: WWAN
Place: Empress Lake, 60 kilometres southwest of Revelstoke
State: BC
Country: CANADA
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 5 snowmobilers caught and buried, one killed


Avalanche kills Alberta snowmobiler

Canadian Press

Monday, March 22, 2004

REVELSTOKE -- A 29-year-old Alberta man died when a weekend avalanche struck a party of snowmobilers in central B.C.

The accident Saturday came a day after the Canadian Avalanche Association issued a special warning to snowmobilers, skiers, and snowboarders using areas of the Columbia Mountains and Northern Rockies.

Kelowna RCMP said the avalanche struck at Empress Lake, 60 kilometres southwest of Revelstoke.

Six people were snowmobiling at noon Saturday when the slide buried five members of the group, RCMP Cpl. Jim McKelvey said yesterday.

Two were able to dig themselves out and two were pulled out with the help of the others. They alerted a local heli-skiing company moments after the slide and a rescue team was brought in by helicopter.

The fifth buried person, identified only as a man from Sylvan Lake, died at the scene.

McKelvey said rescuers tried for an hour and a half to resuscitate the victim but he had been under the snow for too long.

"The deceased was the only member of the group not wearing a beacon, so he was harder to find."

The avalanche association advised in its Friday warning that anyone venturing into the back country should first take avalanche training, consult on avalanche and weather conditions and take appropriate rescue gear.

Avalanche forecaster Ilya Storm said the risk in the area where the slide occurred was considerable because of weather conditions and melting snow.