Survivors of deadly avalanche near Lake Louise saved friend buried under slide 0
Park warden and dog master Mike Henderson and Cazz search the scene of a deadly avalanche near Lake Louise on Saturday, March 8, 2014. Two people were killed after a group of five snowshoers were hit. Photo courtesy Conrad Janzen/Parks Canada
The survivors of a deadly avalanche near Lake Louise Saturday did their best to help rescue their buried friends, saving one from death, according to Parks Canada.
“Two of them were partially buried, the rest of them were completely buried,” said Lisa Paulson, Parks Canada visitor safety specialist.
“The survivors did an incredible job given the situation.”
Two people were killed — a 42-year-old Calgary man and a 31-year-old Edmonton woman — while snowshoeing near the popular Lake Agnes Tea House above Lake Louise, an area frequented by snowshoers and skiers.
Authorities said all in the group of three men and two women are originally from Spain.
Paulson said the two survivors were able to dig themselves out from the avalanche and immediately helped a friend who was buried.
“They heard their friend calling, although he was buried in the snow — his face was only under 30 cm of snow,” she said.
“They essentially saved their friend’s life and dug him out quickly.”
Paulson said they then dug up another friend but she was unconscious and not breathing when they got her out.
“They did the best they could with what they have.”
The snowshoers didn’t have proper safety gear, said Paulson.
“They didn’t have avalanche gear, but they did have a cellphone,” she said.
Safety crews from the park took four of the snowshoers away from the site, then triggered two more avalanches to make sure it was safe for rescuers to find the fifth person.
Paulson said once the area was deemed safe, a search dog was brought in to find the remaining snowshoer.
“This is a horrific event and Parks Canada wants it to be known that our condolences go out to those survivors and their family members abroad,” she said.
One of the women who survived is believed to be the girlfriend of the man who died.
Officials are advising any group who wants to venture into any area of the park to go snowshoeing or skiing to first check avalanche bulletins for safety.
Warm weather over the past few days has made for ideal avalanche conditions throughout the area.
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