Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2004-02-03
Submitted By: WWAN
Place: Ladybird mountain area, northwest of Castlegar
State: BC
Country: CANADA
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 2 snowmobilers caught and buried. One killed.

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Avalanche death blamed on bad luck, poor planning

Bob Keating

Special to The Province

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

NELSON -- Bad luck and poor planning are being blamed for the death of Washington state man in a West Kootenay avalanche.

The dead man, 51, whose body was recovered yesterday, was among seven people snowmobiling together in the Ladybird mountain area northwest of Castlegar.

They were taking a break when one of them took his snowmobile over a ridge above the resting group.

Const. Heather Macdonald said investigators believe that triggered the slide, which buried two of men and the group's rescue probes and shovels.

One man got his arm above the snow and was freed. But without shovels the group could not get to the second man. Search crews found his body yesterday.

The dead man, from Colville, wasn't identified.

Some 50 kilometres away searchers took a break from looking for the body of Michael Duffy, 35, a snowboarder from the San Francisco area who was swept away in a massive slide on Friday.

The strong smell from uprooted spruce trees in the area is confusing the search dogs, said Macdonald.

"Those smells will dissipate and the dogs will have a better chance at finding what we are looking for," said searcher Chris Armstrong.