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Snowmobiler seriously injured after launching 50 feet off washed out riverbank at Coal Creek

The man was lifted with a helicopter to an ambulance, before being taken to Elk Valley Hospital
A section of Coal Creek that was damaged and washed out during the flooding events of November, 2021. (Image courtesy of Andrés González of Andres Flyfishing)

A snowmobiler was seriously injured after launching themselves 50 feet off an eroded river bank on Coal Creek Rd on Thursday (Feb. 24).

Simon Piney, head of Fernie SAR, said they were called by an ambulance at around 1:45 p.m. Thursday afternoon.

“Two snowmobilers in the Coal Creek area went off the road and off a bank with a big drop into the (frozen) creek.”

“The first one sustained minor injuries. The second one was going a lot faster and launched quite some distance, about 50 foot off the bank. And when they hit the ground, unsurprisingly, they sustained a number of pretty serious injuries.”

“There were a couple of people on the ground there, one was a nurse. So they were able to help stabilize him to start with,” Piney said, adding that the injured man was on the frozen river, which Piney said was unstable, and the “ice was pretty thin.”

The SAR ground team snowmobiled to the area “to stabilize him and make him safe.” A helicopter long-line was then used to transport him two kilometres to where the ambulance was staged on Coal Creek Road. He was then taken to Elk Valley Hospital. It took about an hour from the time SAR received the call before they were moving the injured man.

Piney said the incident occurred “right where the washout is” on Coal Creek Road.

The area was damaged in the flooding events of November last year. Repairs to Coal Creek Road were planned by Mainroad East Kootenay Contracting to begin on Jan. 24 and continue for five weeks.

READ MORE: Work set to begin repairing Coal Creek Road

Piney said the snowmobilers were ‘fortunate’ to be on the edge of cell-phone range.

“Had that incident happened three kilometres further into the brush there and out of cell range, it could have taken a lot longer to get an emergency message through,” he said, emphasizing the importance of satellite communication device use.

READ MORE: Fernie SAR has first winter rescues of the season, urge satellite communication device use


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