Avalanches kill three snowmobilers in British Columbia

Posted: Monday, January 08, 2001

PRINCE GEORGE, British Columbia (AP) -- Three snowmobilers have been killed by avalanches in northern British Columbia in recent weeks.

The name of the latest victim was being withheld, pending the notification of relatives. But the 32-year-old man had joined three friends for an outing Saturday afternoon at Torpy Mountain, northeast of Prince George, authorities said.

All were experienced snowmobilers, but they were trapped in a bowl when the avalanche occurred, officials said.

''One of them got caught by the avalanche and the other three were able to stay ahead of it,'' Coroner Beth Larcombe said.

The three survivors used their avalanche beacons to quickly locate the man and dug him from the snow but could not revive him, Larcombe said.

Jeff Smedley, a regional search and rescue manager, said rescuers spotted several slides as they flew to the scene to recover the body Sunday.

Two other snowmobilers were killed Dec. 29 when they were caught by an avalanche near Mackenzie, B.C.

Some recent storms have made snow unstable around the province by adding heavy loads to a weak lower layer, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said.

''When you add enough load on top, it goes pop and it all falls down,'' said Clair Israelson, managing director of the Canadian Avalanche Association.

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