Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 1999-12-26
Submitted By: Brian Robinson
Place: Hospital Creek, near Golden
State: BC
Country: CANADA
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 1 snowmobiler caught buried and killed

Golden man dies in avalanche

Lynda Harrison, Golden Star

The avalanche that killed a local snowmobiler appears to have been caused by conditions that exist

throughout much of Western Canada, says an avalanche expert investigating the Dec. 26 death of Trevor

Lillies.

Golden resident Phil Hein, a member of the Canadian Avalanche Association, is conducting a snow

profile of the Hospital Creek area, where the slide took place, for the B.C. coroner's office.

"There was a problem layer that had been showing itself in many areas," said Hein. By looking at the

conditions of the snowpack at the time, Hein could tell that a crust had formed during a rainy period in

November and that was followed by snow that sat for a period of time in colder temperatures, he said.

The snow became loose and unconsolidated, creating what is called 'faceted' snow which is similar to

coarse salt because it's angular and doesn't bond.

The avalanche, which occurred nine kilometres from Hospital Creek was rated class three, out of five.

A slide of that size is large enough to destroy a car or small building, damage a truck and break trees,

said Hein. Avalanche conditions at the time were rated considerable, or middle of the scale, he added.

That means naturally occurring avalanches are not likely but human triggered ones are probable, said

Hein.

Of the group of friends he was snowmobiling with, Lillies had been the furthest up the slope when the

slide occurred and as such had the greatest potential to be buried. Hein said he believes the others in his

group were also caught in it but managed to escape on their own.

Tim Loader, the coroner for the Golden area, said his investigation is continuing and he is awaiting the

Canadian Avalanche Association's report on snow conditions before he can release the exact

circumstances surrounding the death. He did say Lillies had been buried for about 20 minutes under 1

1/2 metres of snow. Loader advised the public to be extremely cautious when venturing into the

backcountry this winter because of the snowpack.

Lillies, 32, was an "avid everything," including jet skiing and motorcycling, who would do anything to

help someone, said longtime friend Cathy Beauregard. "He was an angel," she said of the Evans Forest

Products Ltd. worker. A memorial service was held last Friday, Dec. 31 for Lillies, who leaves to

mourn his partner, Terry Negreiff. He had no children.