Toby Creek accident claims life

Motor vehicle mishap results in death of 23-year-old male on forest service road.

Columbia Valley RCMP and Columbia Valley Search and Rescue were busy this past weekend responding to two incidents, one of which resulted in a fatality.

A 23-year-old man was killed at Toby Creek near Panorama Mountain Resort on Saturday, May 25th. The man and a 21-year-old woman were driving a 1997 Honda Civic on the forest service road about two and a half kilometers past Panorama resort around 3 a.m. early Saturday morning when they attempted to turn around. It appears that, while reversing the vehicle, they rolled back into Toby Creek.

The force of the creek’s current made the Civic roll over at least twice before it came to rest upright. The woman was able to get out of the vehicle and go for help. Columbia Valley RCMP were dispatched to the scene and could not immediately locate the man.

A search team made up of the RCMP, the Panorama and Windermere fire departments, Elbow River Helicopters, and the Columbia Valley, Kimberley and Golden Search and Rescue teams began looking for the man and later found him dead, trapped outside the vehicle.

The search and rescue effort lasted approximately 12 hours. The B.C. Coroner’s Service and the RCMP are investigating the incident together, and the victim’s name had not been released prior to The Valley Echo’s press deadline.

In the second incident, two women were evacuated by helicopter off a ridge near Panorama on Sunday, May 26th. The two women are from Ontario, approximately 20 years old, and are working at Panorama for the summer. Both are new staff who were hiking to a sub-peak of Mt. Nelson, but after eight hours ended up on an exposed ridge, still with snow on it, unsure of where they were and getting worried about their situation.

“It’s not an established hike, but it can be done. They got a bit beyond their comfort level and what they were prepared for,” Columbia Valley Search and Rescue manager Steve Talsma told The Valley Echo.

At about 2 p.m., the women called for help using their cellphones. The RCMP initially dealt with the incident before calling in Search and Rescue assistance at approximately 3 p.m.

“It was an easy option to use a helicopter, given their location, much simpler than sending rescuers hiking in eight hours,” Talsma said.

The helicopter picked the women up by at about 5 p.m. and their condition was later checked by B.C. Ambulance staff.

“They’re healthy — they were just cold, tired and did not have enough food, water and extra clothes,” said Talsma.

The summer tourism season brings an influx of seasonal workers from across Canada as well as other parts of the world and many of them may not be familiar with mountain conditions and how to prepare for them, he said.

The women had told a roommate where they planned to hike and when they planned to be back, which was a really smart move, Talsma said, adding that even if the women had not be able to use their cellphones, their roommate could have alerted people for help when the women did not return on time.