An avalanche struck a Heli-ski group early Wednesday morning claiming the lives of two of its party members. The group of commercially guided heli-skiers was riding in the Bonnington Mountain range near Blewett, B.C. when they were hit by the slide a little before 10am.
The group consisted of four skiers and one guide. Mounties activated Nelson Search and Rescue but upon learning that the heli-ski company had already mobilized its emergency protocol they stood down.
Cpl. Dan Moskaluk explained, “In the immediate area, there were other groups of skiers associated with the heli-ski operator,” he said, adding those people rushed to help.”
Apparently after the snow settled, the guide and one of the skiers were able to get themselves freed from the snow with only minor injuries. They were able to immediately begin digging out their comrades. Initially, one man was confirmed dead on the scene while a woman, who was found unresponsive and critically injured passed away shortly after. The fourth skier was successfully recovered and incurred only minor injuries.
Moskaluk said, “All have been transported to medical area facilities.”
The two deaths bring the British Columbia avalanche-related death toll up to 10 for the 2011/2012 season. Local Mounties and the B.C. Coroner’s Service continue to investigate the accident.