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UPDATE: Three avalanche deaths this weekend, four last week

A father and son from Montreal died in an avalanche on the shores of Lake Louise on Saturday, March 15, 2014.
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March 16, 2014 - 11:01 AM


LAKE LOUISE, Alta. - A Parks Canada spokesperson says the avalanche risk was high in an area where a father and son were killed when snow rushed down the slope where they had gone to toboggan in Lake Louise, Alta.

Banff National Park resource conservation manager Bill Hunt says RCMP requested the aid of Parks Canada Search and Rescue personnel to help look for the two on Saturday afternoon.

Hunt says a Parks Canada team found a partially buried toboggan in the avalanche debris and that helped searchers locate the victims at the base of Mount Fairview on the shore of Lake Louise.

Hunt says the area where they were found is an "avalanche slope" and there are a number of avalanches in that area every year.

He says the avalanche hazard for that region of the park was rated as high, and it isn't in an area where Parks Canada does avalanche control work.

The names of the victims are being withheld pending notification of their next of kin, but Hunt says it's believed they were tourists and not familiar with the area or the risk.

"In this case it would appear that we're dealing with someone who just had no idea even to need to ask for the information," Hunt said.

Parks Canada has taken efforts to make the avalanche risk known to visitors through additional signage, radio messages, and making avalanche forecasts available through hotels and equipment rental shops, Hunt said.

"That's something we've struggled with for a long time now," he added.

It's been a bad weekend for snow slides.

A 36-year-old man from Lloydminster, Saskatchewan died of injuries he suffered Friday night in an avalanche near Blue River, B.C., about halfway between Kamloops and Jasper, Alta.

And a 38-year-old man from Calgary was critically injured Saturday when he and some fellow skiers triggered an avalanche in Alberta's Banff National Park.

All this on the heels of a warning from the Canadian Avalanche Centre going into the weekend that asked backcountry users to be cautious.

There were four avalanche fatalities last week.

- This story was updated at 11:01 a.m., March 16, 2014 to add comments from the Parks Canada spokesperson.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2014
The Canadian Press

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