July 14, 2011
Shelley Timms, B.A., LL.B., LL.M.
Timshel Services Inc.
Alcohol Risk Management
During the winter season of 2009, there were a number of avalanche tragedies in Western Canada. Most, if not all, of them could have been avoided with the use of common sense and in some cases, proper preparation. However, one tragedy garnered more publicity due to the sequence of events surrounding the incident. A Quebec couple skied under the tape at Kicking Horse Resort, and skied out of bounds. They became lost and were not found until 9 days later and sadly, the wife had died largely due to hypothermia. What happened between the time they skied under the tape and when they were found is now being investigated and will be seen through a microscope as a result of the lawsuit that was filed by the survivor shortly thereafter.
Apparently, after the couple descended the slope they were near the Columbia River, and quickly realized that they were lost. They attempted to follow the river but chose the wrong way which took them farther from help rather than closer. At one point, they marked out “SOS” in the snow which was seen by back country skiers on the second day and reported to the local Search and Rescue Group. This group, like other search and rescue groups is made up of volunteers, and though highly trained, they cannot simply go out and search and rescue without authority from police and the Provincial Emergency Programme. The resort was contacted but there was nothing to indicate that anyone was missing. There is a dispute as to who was to call the RCMP, the person reporting the SOS sighting or the search and rescue group, but the RCMP was not contacted. As a result, no search and rescue was conducted. Read more