NEWS

New Zealand police confirm bodies of Louis-Vincent Lessard and Étienne Lemieux found

07/29/2015 06:30 EDT | Updated 07/29/2016 05:59 EDT
Police in New Zealand have confirmed the bodies of two 23-year-old Quebec tourists were found near a popular hiking trail near the town of Te Anau.

The bodies of Louis-Vincent Lessard and Étienne Lemieux were found together among avalanche debris.

Although their remains were discovered on Sunday and Monday, police have formally identified them in the past day.

The two men were supposed to return home to Montreal on Friday, but they missed their flights leaving New Zealand, leading their families to contact police.

Dangerous conditions 

New Zealand authorities are reminding people to be careful when hiking during their winter season.

Sgt. Ian Martin, the local search-and-rescue coordinator for New Zealand police, said snow was particularly deep three weeks ago where the two would have been hiking.

"The majority of people who walk the Kepler track do it in summer and there's seldom any snow," he said.

"Totally different story in winter, when large volumes of snow can fall in that area. Not many people at all walk the Kepler track in winter."

Lovers of the outdoors

Kelly Larsen of New Zealand police in Queenstown said witnesses told police the two young men had talked about plans to trek the Kepler track, which she said is usually about a four-day walk through the mountains.

Larsen said most trails in New Zealand are self-guided.

Lessard, who worked at Montreal outdoor gear shop Le Boutique Yeti, had purchased some mountaineering equipment ahead of his trip, according to co-worker Dominic Denault Pilon.

Many photos on Lessard's Facebook page show him mountain biking, snowboarding and doing other outdoor activities.

"He was really, really nice. Really adventurous, really intelligent. He was actually somebody who enjoyed doing outdoor activities — skiing, hiking, cycling," Pilon said.

Another co-worker, Hugo Brunet, said Lessard truly loved the outdoors.

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