Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2009-01-08
Submitted By: WWAN
Place: Alice Mountain, 15 kilometres northwest of Terrace, B.C.
State: BC
Country: CANADA
Fatalities: 1
Summary: unknown number caught, 1 snowboarder buried, rescued, and died at hospital


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B.C. avalanche claims 11th victim

The Vancouver Province January 11, 2009

TERRACE, B.C. -- A 39-year-old American snowboarder who was buried in an avalanche along with his teenage son and a group of heli-skiers in northwestern British Columbia on Thursday has died.

The latest fatality is B.C.'s 11th avalanche-related death this season.

RCMP say they were informed Saturday the man had died after being transferred from a local hospital to a Washington state medical facility.

The group of skiers and boarders had been dropped onto a mountain by helicopter at Alice Mountain, 15 kilometres northwest of Terrace, B.C., for their third run of the day.

They triggered an avalanche at about 1,500 metres.

Two skiers managed to avoid the first avalanche, but a second, adjacent slide hit at the same time and swept up the boarders.

The 39-year-old was buried for about 10 minutes before three groups of skiers on the mountain managed to pull him out.

His 19-year-old son rode the surface of the slide and was rescued without injury.

The injured man was taken by helicopter first to Terrace Mills Memorial Hospital, then to the U.S., but did not survive.

"Our condolences go out to the victim's family at this very difficult time," said Terrace RCMP spokeswoman Const. Cindy Nunes.

The victim's family have asked that his name not be released.

News of the snowboarder's death came on the same day the provincial government was launching Avalanche Awareness Days.

Public Safety Minister John van Dongen was on Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver Saturday to encourage skiers, snowboarders and back-country enthusiasts to use extra caution during this high-risk avalanche season.

He was joined by teams from Canadian Avalanche Association and AdventureSmart in demonstrations of how to use safety tools and techniques.

The awareness event continues on Sunday at Grouse Mountain, and includes information on trip preparation and training, gear and other safety tips.

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Eight men died after a series of avalanches swept down the mountain in the backcountry near Fernie B.C., on Dec. 28. A memorial was held last Sunday for the men, all from the nearby town of Sparwood and all experienced in backcountry snowmobiling.

The Vancouver Province