At approximately 3:20 p.m. (PST) on Sunday January 23, 2011 Tumbler Ridge RCMP received a call from North District Operations Communications Centre (OCC) that a S.P.O.T. (Satellite Personal Tracker) was activated in an area west of Tumbler Ridge, BC. Notice of the activation was received from a US call centre. The location northwest of Albright Ridge is known to be an alpine area used by a small number of experienced snowmobilers.
Tumbler Ridge RCMP notified the Provincial Emergency Program (PEP) and a search was initiated using local Search and Rescue personnel from Tumbler Ridge, Chetwynd and Fort St. John.
During the search, another call was received by North District OCC at around 7:45 p.m (PST) from Calgary 9-1-1 dispatch that two males had made it out of an avalanche and were approximately 23 kilometers or about 45 minutes southwest of Tumbler Ridge. The males were interviewed by Tumbler Ridge RCMP and they told police that three others, for a total of five, were caught in an avalanche earlier that day. The two of them had left for help, while the other three, including one male who was in medical distress, remained at the site. The injured male had been dug out by the survivors using avalanche beacons, probes and shovels from about two meters of snow and required CPR. It was feared that the injured male had died. The two remaining males were said to be in good health, with some food, water, fire and an emergency kit.
Search and Rescue efforts had to deal with numerous challenges including lack of light, snow conditions and difficult terrain. While searchers were not able to reach the men Sunday night, efforts resumed Monday morning and they were located and removed from the area around 10:20 a.m. (PST).
Tumbler Ridge RCMP can confirm that a 47 year old male from Grande Cache, Alberta succumbed to his injuries, despite heroic efforts by his friends to provide medical assistance after the avalanche. The name of the deceased is not being released at this time to allow for notification of next of kin. The BC Coroners Service has been notified.