McBride Residents Await Further Avalanche Details
Prince George, B.C. – The mayor of McBride says the devastating avalanche that took the lives of five snowmobilers near that community on Friday has left residents looking for more information on just what occurred.
Mayor Loranne Martin says “anytime a tragedy like this occurs you spend time waiting with baited breath for more information and my understanding after being brought up to date by the RCMP is that it was just an avalanche that five people got caught in. We had Search and Rescue on the ground really quickly so the recovery was started very quickly but unfortunately it was of such a nature that there wasn’t much they could do other than to recover the bodies.”
Mayor Martin says she has heard rumors since Friday that some other snowmobilers out in the Renshaw area where the avalanche occurred suffered injuries however she says “I think they’re just rumors. As far as I know nobody else was injured, it was just the one group and they were able to recover everybody yesterday afternoon even before it became dark.”
Mayor Martin says at this point she does not know where the five victims are from. “No, I know that at this point they’re in the process of notifying next-of-kin and making sure that the services are in place for them and their families. They told me that they will not be releasing the details, and when they do it will just be the names, ages and province that they’re from. So we’re not exactly sure who or where they’re from.”
The mayor says the weather in the McBride area has been warmer than usual this winter. “We live between two mountains ranges, the Cariboos and the Rockies, so the weather patterns here are very unpredictable at all times. But this year it’s been a bit of a warmer year, we don’t have the snowfall that we usually do. Like you can actually see grass still down in the valley areas. But in the mountains in the last couple of days and even in the valley we’ve seen a lot of rain, and snow conditions just led to unstable slopes.”
She provided a description of the area where the avalanche occurred. “Basically there’s a launching area called The Renshaw, and from there you can basically sled right into Alberta. It’s a huge, untracked snow area which is, of course, the attraction for the sledders. But, anytime you go, I mean the mountains are beautiful but they’re also dangerous.”
As far as how the people of McBride are dealing with this sudden, enormous tragedy Mayor Martin says “avalanches happen in this area and that ‘s why we have such large Search and Rescue, first responder and fire volunteer capacity, because it is dangerous. So the locals here are quite used to the conditions and how treacherous they can be. But for the rest of the community, we’re all waiting to hear, we’re worried about everybody’s families and how they’re coping.”
“You really end up with your hands tied because there’s really not much you can do.”
Both the RCMP and the BC Coroners Service expect to provide updates on their respective investigations into the avalanche deaths sometime today.