Local snowmobiler perishes in avalanche
A snowmobile outing has ended in tragedy for a local family. The Castlegar RCMP has confirmed that a local area man died in a snowmobiling avalanche incident on Monday.
Castlegar RCMP received a report from a family member of an adult male snowmobiler, indicating the man was overdue from a day-long solo excursion near Castlegar at approximately 10 p.m. Monday. The RCMP immediately activated the Castlegar Search and Rescue (SAR) team.
Friends of the missing man had already headed out to the scene to begin a search beginning at the known starting point. The group went out on snowmobiles and after about eight kilometres came across an avalanche runout near College Creek forestry road. They were able to locate the sled, but conditions were dark, snowy and cold and they were not able to locate the missing man.
Due to avalanche conditions and safety, SAR teams met at first light on Tuesday morning and began operations. All told, four SAR teams (Castlegar, Rossland, South Columbia and Nelson) participated in the search consisting of 38 personnel, two helicopters, ten snowmobiles and two dog teams. They were joined by numerous volunteers.
Two CAA level 3 technicians were flown in to evaluate the avalanche slope and conditions. According to a South Columbia Search and Rescue press release, "It was determined that the slope and avalanche runoff were unsafe. Our CAA techs set off three separate charges to clear the area of danger so we could begin our searching. Our personnel were staged a short distance away from the avalanche location while the CAA techs cleared the area for entry."
Unfortunately, the man was found deceased approximately two metres below the surface of snow. With the assistance of High Terrain Helicopters, SAR was able to recover him within about two and a half hours.
The man has been identified as Daniel Joseph Davidoff, aged 45, of Castlegar. Davidoff was an avid snowmobiler who was well known and admired throughout the snowmobile community, not just locally, but throughout western Canada and the western United States. By Tuesday evening, Facebook was flooded with condolences, memories and videos marking his passing.
Davidoff, whose nickname was the Krazy Canadian, was featured in several snowmobiling movies produced by Thunderstruck Films. In a clip Thunderstruck posted on Facebook, Davidoff was talking about his love of the sport. "For me, it's all about the adrenaline rush. Pure and straight, I love the rush I get when I take it to the edge of destruction and glory."
South Columbia Search and Rescue president Mike Hudson stated in an email, "Please stress that the conditions out there are horrible at this time and that's why we are seeing multiple avalanche issues at the moment. With the changing temperatures and continued fresh snow and freezing it has become very dangerous. Please use extra caution and have safety gear with you." This statement was made after search and rescue was called out again Tuesday night to deal with skiers that had also been involved in another avalanche in Plewman Basin near Rossland.