NEWS

Mark Salesse: Recovery mission continues for soldier missing in Banff avalanche

02/08/2015 03:13 EST | Updated 04/10/2015 05:59 EDT
The recovery mission to find Mark Salesse, the search and rescue technician who was swept away by an Avalanche in Banff National Park on Thursday, continues today.

Salesse, 44, was preforming annual training exercises in an area known as the Polar Circus with three other members of the 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron from 17 Wing Winnipeg when the incident occurred.

Brian Webster, visitor safety specialist for Parks Canada, said Salesse was climbing with a partner when one of them triggered a small avalanche on descent, which swept Salesse over a 60-metre cliff. The other squad member was not injured and descended to his vehicle to call for help.

The recovery operation is being led by a Parks Canada visitor safety specialist team. However, unrelenting snowfall and the risk of more avalanches have hampered search efforts in the area.

Yesterday, the recovery operation focused on mitigating the avalanche risk using explosives. The goal for today, according to Webster, is to get ground searchers into the area. They have six rescue specialists waiting to be flown in by helicopter and will be using two Parks Canada rescue dogs.

"We suspect the initial avalanche didn't bury him very deep, it was a small avalanche," Webster said. 

"There has been subsequent avalanches — both natural and explosive-released avalanches — over top of the area, so we're expecting the person to be fairly deep beneath the snow."

Webster said the climbers were not wearing avalanche transceivers at the time of the accident.

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