Alberta Man Dies in Backcountry

Trent Ernst, Editor

On May 5, a 49-year-old man from Valhalla, Alberta was killed while snowmobiling in the backcountry southeast of Wapiti Provincial Park.

He was one of a group of six snowmobilers from Alberta who were out playing in the popular snowmobiling area near the Red Deer River, about 70 km southeast of Tumbler Ridge.

According to the RCMP, the man was making his last run of the day when the accident happened. He ascended a mountain face when he appeared to lose control of his machine and ended up falling off a cliff on the opposite side.

One of the other members of the party managed to exit the area and make contact with a friend via satellite phone. The friend in turn called S.T.A.R.S. for a helicopter rescue. Shortly after arrival on the scene S.T.A.R.S. crew determined the male to be deceased and provided air transport to Grande Prairie’s Queen Elizabeth II Hospital.

According to Sergeant Render, conditions had little to play in the accident. Instead, says Render, the accident appears to have been caused by “the way he was operating his machine.”

Lou Maffrat is a snowmobiler from Grande Prairie familiar with the area. He says that spring time is a dangerous time for snowmobiling. “In springtime you have what we call hero snow. It sets up so hard, your track has all the traction it wants. You have all the horsepower you want. It’ll propel you to the top. It gets slippery coming down.”

While Maffrat can’t be sure what happened, he suspects that the rider simply lost control on the hard packed snow. “If you don’t respect the machine and the area, you can get into trouble.”

It is not known yet if other factors were involved in the accident.

The man’s name has yet to be released. Next of Kin have been notified.