Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2008-03-21
Submitted By: WWAN
Place: near the town of Thetford Mines
State: QC
Country: CANADA
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 1 person caught, buried, and killed


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Avalanche claims life of Quebec teen

Katie Rook, National Post

Published: Friday, March 21, 2008

A teenaged boy was swept to his death on Friday by an avalanche in south-central Quebec.

The 15-year-old boy was sliding down a hill with a 14-year-old friend when the avalanche struck near the town of Thetford Mines, police said.

The 14-year-old was waiting at the base of an asbestos mine when he saw his friend being covered in snow. After trying to dig him out, the boy went home and called 911 around 3:45 p.m.

About 50 people, including local police and firefighters as well as volunteers from the town of about 26,000, used snowmobiles to search for the boy. He was found unconscious around 5 p.m. and could not be revived.

Record-breaking snowfalls in some regions of Quebec this winter have already proved deadly.

At least four people have died in building cave-ins, including three women who died when a roof collapsed at a warehouse in Morin Heights.

Hundreds of schools in the region were temporarily closed while roofs were cleared of snow.

Meanwhile, officials were yesterday warning skiers and snowboarders heading out to the mountains this weekend to be careful, one day after a woman was partially buried in a small avalanche near Fernie, B.C..

The 33-year-old woman was caught in an avalanche on Thursday while cat-skiing at Island Lake Lodge in the Lizard Range near Fernie.

"She was knocked over and taken a ways down the mountain and bumped into a tree, breaking her leg quite badly," said Steve Kuijt, general manager of Island Lake Lodge.

The woman was taken by helicopter to the Fernie Hospital and then transported to Calgary in stable condition.

Mr. Kuijt said the avalanche was small, about 15 metres wide and 50 centimetres deep.

"This was an isolated patch of snow that was slightly wind- deposited," said Mr. Kuijt, adding the lodge is still running its normal programs.

Karl Klassen, a public avalanche forecaster for the Canadian Avalanche Centre in Revelstoke, said there were two weak layers of snow in the South Rockies region that were of concern.

"The problem is people can't see or feel them anymore, so they may not know they're there," Mr. Klassen said.

He said the same layers have proved to be problematic in other areas, and he thinks they are on the verge of causing significant problems.

"People have to be very careful about what terrain they are skiing on," he said.

An avalanche bulletin for Banff, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks warns of a surface hoar layer of significant concern.

The layer is now buried and any avalanche on the layer would likely be a big avalanche.

At least 14 people have been killed in avalanches in Western Canada this ski season.