RCMP say two victims caught in B.C. avalanche are both from Calgary

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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GOLDEN, B.C. - Two skiers who were waiting for their turn at the top of a closed avalanche area watched as their friends were caught up in an avalanche.

RCMP say both men who died in Saturday's avalanche are from Calgary, but their names have not yet been released.

The four had been skiing in a permanently closed avalanche area near the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in B.C.'s Rockies.

Police say a 36-year-old man and a 14-year-old boy remained at the top of a ski run while the two other men went down, triggering the avalanche.

``The two males who remained at the top were not injured, while the other two were buried in the avalanche path,' said a news release, issued by the RCMP on Sunday.

Both buried skiers were found by search and rescue workers within half an hour of the call for help, but were pronounced dead shortly after being taken to hospital in Golden, B.C.

After the two men were pulled out of the snow, police and rescuers expanded their search with avalanche-search dogs.

``Officials believe that the results of the expanded search utilizing the special trained canine units, in all accounts, indicated no other skiers were involved or remain outstanding,' said the RCMP release.

The avalanche happened in the same area where Montreal skier Gilles Blackburn, 51, and his wife Marie-Josee Fortin, 44, spent nine days lost in the cold.

Fortin died before rescue came on Feb. 24.

Blackburn's SOS signals in the snow were reported to police but went ignored.

Mounties admitted they made a mistake not launching a search for the couple sooner.

The Canadian Avalanche Centre has rated the avalanche danger in the area as serious, meaning that avalanches could occur with human or other triggers. The centre said avalanche training and experience are essential for safe backcountry travel in the area.

The death toll this avalanche season in Western Canada is near 20 people, including eight snowmobilers who died in an avalanche last December near Fernie, B.C.

Organizations: RCMP, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Canadian Avalanche Centre

Geographic location: B.C., Calgary, Rockies Golden Montreal Western Canada Fernie

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