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MLA pays tribute to German tourists killed in Invermere-area avalanche

Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok paid tribute in B.C.’s legislature to three German skiers killed in an avalanche near Invermere on Wednesday.

A group of 10 heliskiers, including the guide, were caught when the avalanche came down on them in the backcountry near Panorama Mountain Resort.

First responders were called out to the scene shortly before 1 p.m., with a number of emergency resources including search and rescue, police dog services and frontline officers.

Clovechok spoke about the incident in B.C.’s capital on Thursday.

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“Panorama Ski Patrol and local search and rescue crews carried out the effort to locate and free the victims, and worked with BC Ambulance to get the injured to hospital,” said Clovechok. 

“A dozen people have died in avalanches in our province this year, making it one of the worst seasons in decades.”

Reports from the German newspaper Passauer Neue Presse said the three who died were from the Passau district of Germany, two were from Eging am See and one lived in Munich.

Eging am See is about 150 kilometres north of Munich and has a population of about 4,000 – roughly the same as Invermere.

According to Passauer Neue Presse, the three people killed were a 25-year-old man, his 57-year-old father, and a 57-year-old member of Eging municipal council.

Passauer Neue Presse reported that the 25-year-old recently earned a bachelor’s degree, and was taking a skiing trip to the Rocky Mountains to celebrate.

Clovechok offered his condolences to those killed and those who survived the devastating avalanche.

“I know right now, there’s a deep sadness. Our hearts go out to the victims and their loved ones, and those who survived the frightening event,” said Clovechok.

The incident also shook Eging am See, where mayor Walter Bauer called off the council meeting once news reached the community.

“All of us in our community are deeply dismayed by this tragedy and we feel deep sadness,” Bauer said to Passauer Neue Presse. “I’m shocked, stunned and still can’t believe how cruel life can be.”

Police officials said four others were hospitalized from the incident, some of whom, including the guide, suffered serious injuries but are expected to survive.

Interior Health is urging people to be prepared and extremely careful in the backcountry, as avalanche risk remains considerable.

More: Interior Health urges extreme caution due to avalanche danger (Mar 3, 2023)

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