Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2009-03-27
Submitted By: WWAN
Place: Valley of the Lakes, 20 km SW of Parson, BC
State: BC
Country: CANADA
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 1 snowmobiler caught, buried, and killed


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Snowmobiler killed in avalanche near Golden

By Carrie White - Golden Star

Published: March 27, 2009 5:00 PM

Updated: March 30, 2009 12:50 PM

Golden RCMP have confirmed the death of a 50-year-old male buried in an avalanche earlier today, in the Vermont Creek (Silver mines) area near Golden, B.C.

The Alberta resident was snowmobiling as part of a group of nine and apparently triggered an avalanche while high marking in the Vermont Creek area. The area is near Bobbie Burns Lodge owned by Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH).

RCMP reported that at 2:22 p.m., on March 27, a report of an emergency beacon that was activated from a Spot device that indicated an emergency and provided a GPS location.

The detachment also received a report from CMH working in the bugaboo area that a group of snowmobile operators had been caught in an avalanche. CMH dispatched guides to the area to investigate and offer assistance.

Golden Search and rescue along with Alpine helicopters were dispatched.

It was learned that a group of seven to nine people were together with their snow machines when the avalanche was triggered. All the people in the party were accounted for except for the victim who was found buried under seven feet of snow along with his machine.

Rob Rohn, director of mountain operations for CMH spoke with The Golden Star regarding the incident.

"Our guides at the Bobbie Burns Lodge were notified of the incident. It is unsure how the communication got through to the guides at this time. Our guides then responded and provided medical assistance. Shortly after our guides arrived on the scene Golden and District Search and Rescue (GADSAR) arrived and the victim was transported down the mountain by GADSAR."

Rohn explained that the group was not staying at the lodge, that they were in the area on their own to his knowledge.

The area where the avalanche occurred is commonly referred to as Silver Mine area by recreational users.

"It is a fairly popular area with backcountry snowmobilers. The incident occurred on one side of the pass at the head of Vermont Creek."

Rohn explained that the area of Vermont Creek is located south of Parson and the only access is by logging road and then snowmobile.

"From Parson, the area they were in is about 50 or 60 kilometres away."

Rohn stressed that CMH is not aware of the incidents leading up to the avalanche and subsequent death.

"It appears that the group was high-marking in the area when the avalanche occurred. That is what my guides surmised after seeing the area."

Rohn explained that high-marking is a practice of riding up and down a steep slope and is quite common.

Rohn admitted that there are instabilities in the snow-pack right now and that the Canadian Avalanche Association issues regular bulletins regarding avalanche conditions in the area.

Ian Foss, of GADSAR, gave a statement regarding the incident and GADSAR's response.

"The local RCMP tasking agent, that contacted GADSAR, informed us that the RCMP had been notified of the incident by a distress beacon of some kind."

Foss said that because of the mutual aid agreement between GADSAR and CMH, upon receiving the call GADSAR directed CMH to the scene as they were closer and may have been able to provide help sooner.

Unfortunately, when CMH guides arrived with GADSAR following close behind, they were unable to revive the victim.

"One subject was dug out by his companions. That subject was then recovered and transported to the Golden hospital by GADSAR."

The identity of the deceased, released on March 28, is Daryl Hay of Carbon, Alberta.

According to the Ministry of Forests website, Vermont Creek and the Valley of the Lakes area is said to provide many high elevation riding opportunities, but is meant for very advanced snowmobilers.