Fernie, British Columbia (March, 27 2003) AP– A heli-skier from France was killed and a pair of snowmobilers were missing after two separate avalanches in southeastern British Columbia.
A slide fell Wednesday on the back side of Mt. Terry Fox near Valemount, hitting a group of 10 heli-skiers from France, Switzerland and Britain. An hour later a second avalanche fell 280 miles to the southeast near Fernie, sweeping away four snowmobiles.
The French heli-skier was trapped under the snow for close to half an hour before emergency crews located and dug him out. The 45-year-old man was flown to a hospital by helicopter and pronounced dead at 2:35 p.m.
Heli-skiers are generally experienced skiers who use helicopters to reach snow fields where ski lifts are not available.
The victim’s name had not yet been released as police tried to contact his family in France.
The other heli-skiers in the group were unhurt, police said. Hours after the second slide hit, emergency crews were still searching near Ferry Creek, just outside the ski town of Fernie, for at least two missing snowmobilers.
Neither the hometowns nor the identities of the victims were known.
Nineteen people have died in avalanches in British Columbia this season, including seven Alberta high school students who died in a slide near Revelstoke on Feb. 1.
Four Canadians and three American skiers died in a similar slide in January.
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