POLITICS

Two people killed in B.C. avalanche while heli-sking were from England and U.S.

03/22/2012 05:36 EDT | Updated 05/22/2012 05:12 EDT
NELSON, B.C. - A heli-ski guide yelled to his group of four to get out of the way when he heard a ridge of snow above them break loose, but nobody was fast enough to avoid the large avalanche, RCMP say.

Two people, a woman from Salt Lake City, Utah, and a man from London, England, were killed in Wednesday's snow slide on the slopes of the Bonnington Mountain Range, near Nelson in southeastern B.C.

The heli-ski operator had several other employees guiding different groups on nearby slopes when they saw the fatal slide, said RCMP Corp. Dan Moskaluk.

He said the group had just completed its run.

"They had removed their gear and were waiting to be picked up by a helicopter when the group saw a slide was triggered from a ridgetop just above them," said Moskaluk.

Dead are Katie Aring, 32, of Salt Lake City and 31-year-old Ryan Keene of London.

Moskaluk said one of the five members of the group wasn't buried and was able to call for help.

Other guides nearby, who had witnessed the slide, managed to dig out the skiers within minutes, but the victims couldn't be revived.

Moskaluk said the avalanche was considered large, or a 3.5 on the scale of one to five.

Avalanche conditions in that area of the province are rated as considerable, meaning conditions are dangerous and snowpack evaluation and conservative decision making are essential when choosing a route to ski or snowmobile.

Several special warnings about the dangers of avalanche have been sent out this month after a series of storms swept over the province, layering snow onto unstable slopes.

The latest deaths bring the number of avalanche victims this season to 10.