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Search suspended for snowmobiler caught avalanche near Chetwynd Feb. 2

The search for a snowmobiler who was caught up in an avalanche south of Chetwynd February 2, has now been scaled back.

Search and rescue volunteers from Prince George, Tumbler Ridge, Fort St. John and Chetwynd along with three RCMP police service dogs from all areas of the province assisted in the ground search for the 31-year-old man from Fort St. John. 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 was removed from the area on Saturday, February 8.

Search efforts have been hampered by poor weather conditions throughout the week that 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 dog trained by the Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association (CARDA).

“Search and rescue efforts are no longer underway,” 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 backcountry 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.

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