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Date: 2009-01-17
Submitted By: WWAN
Place: Black Meadows area of Babcock Mountain near Tumbler Ridge
State: BC
Country: CANADA
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 1 snowmobiler caught, buried, and killed

***MEDIA REPORTS***

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Avalanche death toll rises to 16 in B.C.

By Denise Ryan, Vancouver SunJanuary 18, 2009

TUMBLER RIDGE — A snowmobiler killed by an avalanche Saturday brings the total number of people who have died in avalanches in B.C. so far this season to 16.

The latest death occurred at about 2:30 p.m. when one member of a group of six snowmobilers in the Black Meadows area of Babcock Mountain near Tumbler Ridge, about 60 km west of the Alberta border, was caught in a slide.

According to RCMP, the death occurred when the snowmobiler was “highmarking” — attempting to set the highest track mark in the snow while travelling up the side of a hill.

The five other snowmobilers in the party were at the bottom of the hill and off to one side when the hillside broke free, burying a lone male rider.

The other members of the group were not caught in the avalanche. With the assistance of other snowmobilers, they were able to locate the man, but could not revive him.

RCMP are not releasing the identity of the man pending notification of next of kin.

On Friday, another deadly avalanche occurred near Valemont, burying two men. One survived the slide, but his companion, a 33-year-old male from Alberta, perished. His name has not been released at the request of his family.

In December eight snowmobilers were killed in a deadly slide near Fernie.

According to B.C.’s minister of public safety John Van Dongen, an average of 14 people are killed in avalanches in Canada each year, and 65 per cent of fatal snow slides occur in B.C.

The RCMP is urging the public to know the avalanche rating for the area they are in, and to be prepared with probe poles, shovels and locator beacons when they go out for mountain sledding.

Denise Ryan, Vancouver Sun with Sun files