British Columbia

Search for snowmobiler missing on northern B.C. mountain scaled back

Chetwynd RCMP say despite a co-ordinated search to find a missing snowmobiler from Fort St. John, search and rescue crews and RCMP have been unable to locate him and they believe he was buried in an avalanche.

Police believe 31-year-old was buried in avalanche triggered Feb. 2 on Mt. Murray

RCMP are not publicly identifying a snowmobiler who went missing after an avalanche near Chetwynd. (Shannon VanRaes/Reuters)

Chetwynd RCMP say the search for a missing snowmobiler from Fort St. John has been scaled back after co-ordinated efforts involving search and rescue volunteers from across the region and two helicopters failed to locate him.

Police believe the 31-year-old was buried in an avalanche that was triggered on Feb. 2 south of Chetwynd. An emergency beacon on the east face of the Mount Murray range alerted police to the missing man that afternoon.

RCMP learned that an avalanche had occurred while a group of snowmobilers were in the area. Searchers found the man's snowmobile six days later.

RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Jesse O'Donaughey said search and rescue efforts were suspended at day's end on Saturday, nearly a week after the avalanche.

"Despite all efforts to locate this missing person, police now believe their search for the Fort St. John man is a recovery operation. The search is not over, and RCMP will monitor the area of the slide from the air as the snowpack melts," O'Donaghey said in a press release.

Weather conditions have been poor and made it difficult for searchers to access the area where the avalanche happened. A controlled explosion was used to regain access to the location.

Police are asking back country users to avoid the area due to a high level of avalanche danger.

RCMP are not publicly identifying the missing man but say his family has been notified.