Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2002-01-25
Submitted By: WWAN
Place: Somewhere near Pemberton, BC
State: BC
Country: CANADA
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 3 skiers caught and buried, 2 rescued, 1 killed

An Official report will be posted from the CAA

When it is submitted.

*****MEDIA REPORT*****

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Slide kills biathlon champion

JAY POSS Winner of '97 national title died while heli-skiing.

Staff And Wire Reports

(Published: January 27, 2002)

Pemberton, British Columbia -- A former national biathlon champion from Anchorage died Friday in an

avalanche while heli-skiing north of Vancouver.

Jay Poss, a 1989 graduate of Dimond High, was killed, according to Marten Martensen, a friend of

Poss'.

Chief Russell Mack of the Pemberton Fire Department said the slide trapped at least two other people

who escaped unharmed.

Mack assisted ambulance crews when they returned to the Pemberton heliport with the body. Poss'

name was not released Friday, but Martensen said he and his wife were notified of the death by

members of the Poss family.

"There were three people caught in the avalanche, but the other two individuals were dug out fairly

quickly," Mack said. "When they flew in on the second chopper, they walked away, so they didn't need

any medical attention."

Poss was a former national biathlon champion who narrowly missed making the 1994 Winter Olympic

team. He won his national title in January 1997, becoming the first Alaskan to do so in more than a

decade.

In July 1997, Poss suffered numerous injuries, including a broken back, in a paragliding accident at

Hatcher Pass. He made a tremendous recovery, and even though he never again competed nationally,

he continued to ski and enjoy the outdoors.

"Since his accident, Jay had gotten into Alpine skiing because he no longer Nordic skied too well,"

Martensen said. "He became an avid Alpine skier, and heli-skiing would be right up his alley."

Poss was part of a group that had flown out with Cayoosh Helisports, a Pemberton company that offers

heli-skiing trips, as well as helicopter charters and snowmobile tours.

Cayoosh Helisports owner John Goats had no comment Friday on the accident and referred all calls to

the coroner's office.

Weather in the region, about 90 miles north of Vancouver, had been unstable, with forecasters issuing

a heavy snowfall warning throughout the coast.

British Columbia's avalanche center had issued high alerts for potential avalanches throughout the

south coast and the south Columbia region.

Many avalanches have occurred during the past several days in the coastal and Cariboo regions.

The heavy snow also forced the closure of the Coquihalla Highway on Thursday night. The highway

reopened Friday.

******MEDIA REPORT**********

Whistler

Two others 'dug out fairly quickly'

Jeremy Sandler

Vancouver Sun

Saturday, January 26, 2002

An avalanche claimed the life of

a man who was heli-skiing in the

Birkenhead area north of

Pemberton on Friday.

Chief Russell Mack of the

Pemberton fire department said

the slide trapped at least two

other people who escaped

unharmed. Mack assisted

ambulance crews when they

returned to the Pemberton heliport

with the body.

"There were three people caught

in the avalanche, but the other two

individuals were dug out fairly

quickly," he said. "When they

flew in on the second chopper,

they walked away, so they didn't

need any [medical] attention."

The party had flown out with

Cayoosh Helisports, a Pemberton company that offers

heli-skiing trips, as well as helicopter charters and

snowmobile tours.

Mack said the fire department was called just before

12:30 p.m., and when he arrived at the heliport, he saw

the victim, a guide and another person come in on the

first helicopter.

A second helicopter flew in the remaining members of

the party, which Mack said included two other skiers and

might have included a second guide.

Cayoosh Helisports and its owner, John Goats, had no

comment on the accident and referred all calls to the

coroner's office.

Brian Pothier, the coroner's agent for the Sea to Sky

corridor, including Pemberton, said no details would be

released until the victim's family was notified.

According to its Web site, Cayoosh Helisports offers

heli-skiing packages starting at $669. The company's

Web site says all of its guides are certified and have

"years of experience." It also states that all its guests

must sign "a comprehensive release acknowledging and

assuming the inherent risks involved with the heli-ski

packages."

It also states that weather can dictate if heli-skiing

packages can be cleared for takeoff.

Weather in the region had been unstable, with the Pacific

Weather Centre issuing a heavy snowfall warning

throughout the coast and the province's avalanche centre

putting out high alerts for potential avalanches throughout

the south coast and the south Columbia region.

"The entire coast will be under this unstable air mass,"

said meteorologist Aaron McCay of Environment

Canada's Pacific weather centre. "Some places will have

two to four centimetres of snow."

The avalanche centre's Web site warns of varying

amounts of storm snow load.

The site, which is updated regularly, with avalanche

bulletins, said a variable snowpack, considerable storm

snow load and moderate to high winds have caused high

risks of avalanches.

"We can expect natural and human triggered avalanches

to occur on many slopes, at least until the present frontal

wave passes through," the Web site said.

Many avalanches, indeed, have occurred over the past

several days in the coastal and Cariboo regions.

The heavy snow also forced the closure of the

Coquihalla Highway Thursday night, with 52 centimetres

falling over a 36-hour period and high winds reducing

visibility. The highway reopened Friday morning.