Search for missing snowmobiler presumed buried in avalanche suspended

Despite coordinated efforts over the past week, a search for a missing snowmobiler south of Chetwynd has been scaled back.

As of day’s end on Saturday February 8, 2020, the search for a missing 30-year-old Fort St. John man, who authorities believe was buried in an avalanche, triggered on Sunday February 2, 2020, has been scaled back.

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Search and rescue volunteers from Prince George, Tumbler Ridge, Fort St. John and Chetwynd all deployed, alongside upwards of three RCMP Police Service Dogs from all areas of the province to assist in the ground search. The search was also supported from the air by a RCMP helicopter and other local helicopter companies. Searchers managed to recover the missing man’s snowmobile, which has since been removed from the area on Saturday February 8.

Search efforts have been hampered by poor weather conditions throughout the week and prevented searchers from safely accessing the area on both Wednesday and Thursday. A controlled blasting was necessary in order to deem the area safe for searchers to re-gain access on Friday February 7 and then again on Saturday February 8.

RCMP Air Services were utilized to transport search and rescue technicians trained in high risk avalanche rescues, along with RCMP Police Services Dogs to the remote site of the slide. The search was also supported by a canine trained by the Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association (CARDA).

Search and rescue efforts are no longer underway, states Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey, spokesperson for the BC RCMP. Despite all efforts to locate this missing person, police now believe their search for the Fort St. John man is a recovery operation. The search is not over, and RCMP will monitor the area of the slide from the air as the snowpack melts.

RCMP are asking back country users to avoid the area of the slide. We discourage others from searching the area, due to the high level of risk for additional avalanches being triggered.

Chetwynd RCMP continue to provide the missing man’s family with updates, while RCMP Victim Services provide ongoing support.

This information was provided by the North District RCMP. Email your community crime news and story tips to reporter Tom Summer at tsummer@ahnfsj.ca.

[Editor's note: RCMP release amended to correct the age of the man to 30, as per family.]

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