Kootenay Search and Rescue teams stayed at the Trail site into the early evening. (Trail Times file photo)

Updated: Coroner investigating death of Trail man

A complicated recovery was required for a man who died in a fall above the Trail hospital

The BC Coroners Service has confirmed that a local man died in an accident above Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital on Wednesday.

“We were notified today (Thursday),” spokesperson Andy Watson told the Trail Times via email.

“I can confirm the coroners service is in the early stages of its investigation involving a male, in his 30s, from Trail,” Watson stated. “Due to the privacy of the deceased, we will not be confirming or releasing the identity of the decedent, per the Coroners Act and provincial privacy legislation.”

Early Thursday, Cpl. Devon Reid said that Trail police would make no further comment as the case had been turned over to the coroners service in Kelowna.

He explained police act only as the service’s agent when the coroner’s office leads an investigation.

Late Thursday, president Mike Hudson from South Columbia SAR released the following details of the operation.

“South Columbia Search and Rescue was called in to mutually assist Rossland Search and Rescue with a fallen climber in Trail yesterday at approx 10:15 a.m.,” he began.

“Castlegar and Grand Forks SAR were also on scene to assist with rescue efforts.”

A call had been reported of a person climbing on the rock bluffs behind the Trail hospital just above the heli- pad area, and that they had fallen, Hudson continued.

“Search and Rescue crews responded to the scene and began rescue operations. Upon arrival to the location of our subject and medical assessment, our subject was found to be deceased. Upon further safety assessment of the area it was determined that some expertise was needed with geo-technical background to assess the rock face in our location before we could continue with rescue efforts.”

Rock debris and broken trees impeded the rescue.

“It appears that the climber was climbing up the rock face and the piece of face the climber grabbed broke free and our subject fell approx 50 meters,” Hudson stated.

“Our rope safety technicians went in with the geo technical adviser and began making the area safe for continued operations. Several large boulders ( large in size like a pick up truck box) and several other sizes where pushed away from the rock face and all other overhead debris was removed for safety.

“During this process access to the Trail hospital had to be temporarily closed to allow for falling debris to be safely removed.”

HETS rescue (Helicopter External Transport System) was called in to assist extraction efforts.

“Once the area was made safe and rescuers could re-enter, rope members set up a High Angle Rescue system to assist with the HETS operation and attendants to safely get our subject out,” Hudson said.

“Our subject was then airlifted to the JL Crowe high school area and then released to waiting paramedics. Approximately 18 to 20 members responded to this call and with various technical backgrounds. Our rescue operations were completed about 5:30 p.m.”

Hudson thanks all the responders that attended this call and for all their help with rescue efforts.

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A 9-1-1 call came in to Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue mid-morning Wednesday, stating someone had witnessed a person fall several metres from a rock face above the hospital.

A witness said she was leaving the hospital and noticed a cloud of dust and some rocks falling near the graffiti-covered face of the bluffs.

That’s when the witness saw someone “roped in and chipping away at rocks.”

The witness said then a larger rock fell and took the climber down to a plateau above the hospital’s helipad.

Police stayed on scene with Search and Rescue teams from Castlegar, Rossland, South Columbia and Grand Forks late into the day while geo-engineers assessed the site as the rocks were reported to be unstable.

A HETS rescue – or helicopter long line rescue – was also called in.

Helicopter long line rescue systems can offer rapid rescue response and reduced risk exposure over traditional land rescue based techniques in remote, high angle terrain or difficult to access work sites.

Related story here: Climber falls above Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital

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