Small B.C. town mourns death of doctor in avalanche
Douglas Quan , ctvbc.ca
Published Thursday, February 18, 2010 10:57PM PST
A small B.C. town was mourning the loss Thursday of a doctor who died after being caught in an avalanche while backcountry skiing.
Two other skiers survived.
The incident happened on the north side of Raft Peak, near the town of Clearwater, which is about 120 kilometres north of Kamloops.
According to the RCMP, the trio triggered the avalanche about 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday. All three men were buried but they were able to dig themselves out.
However, one of the men, Dr. Ifor Thomas, 48, was seriously injured and he died later in hospital.
John Harwood, the mayor of Clearwater and Thomas' neighbour, said Thomas worked at Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital.
"He was a very caring doctor, very precise, and would take a lot of interest with his patients," Harwood told ctvbc.ca.
Harwood described Thomas as an avid outdoorsman, who enjoyed mountain biking, kayaking and canoeing.
About 12 years ago, a similar accident in Blue River, north of Clearwater, claimed the life of another local doctor, Cary Lam, who was on a heli-skiing trip with Thomas, Harwood said.
"In a small community, this hits home again," Harwood said.
The population of Clearwater is about 2,800.
Harwood identified the two survivors of Wednesday's avalanche as Robert Beaudry, a certified rescuer and whitewater rafting company owner, and Tony Lifely.
"These were not amateurs," Harwood said.
On Wednesday, the Canadian Avalanche Centre issued a special avalanche warning for many areas of the province, including the area where the fatality occurred.
There are several weak layers in the upper snowpack and the weight of a person or snowmobile could trigger avalanches, said operations manager John Kelly in a statement.