Final body found as avalanche victims are named
Searchers have recovered the body of 28-year-old Danny Bjarnason, the last of eight snowmobilers killed by an avalanche near Fernie on Sunday.
His body was located Tuesday morning.
The bodies of seven Sparwood men were found Monday before heavy snow and low cloud forced suspension of the search late in the afternoon.
Hundreds gathered Monday night at a candlelight vigil to remember the victims -- all long-time friends, including two cousins, a father and son.
The RCMP on Tuesday released the names and ages of the men. Along with Bjarnason, they are Warren Rothel, 33, Thomas Talarico, 32, Kane Rusnak, 30, Len Stier, 45, and his son Mikel Stier, 20, Kurt Kabel, 28, and Blayne Wilson, 26.
Several of the men had young families.
Randy Roberts, the father-in-law of Bjarnason, described him as a "super guy who would do anything for you."
A snowmobiler himself, he said Bjarnason was experienced in back-country travel.
"It's an accident that can happen at any given time."
Roberts said the families of the men were grieving but they had received "tons of support".
It turns out that four avalanches had occurred Sunday.
The tragedy began when two members of the group headed into a bowl near Fernie to help dig out another member who had become stuck in heavy snow.
All three were buried by an avalanche but one managed to dig himself free just as a second slide roared down on all 11 members as they searched for their still-buried friends.
Two men freed themselves from the second slide and were pulling out a third man when yet another avalanche hit, forcing the two to dig for another 20 minutes before rescuing their friend.
Just minutes after the three made the difficult decision to get out of the bowl, a fourth slide, caused by the collapse of an overhanging shelf of snow, covered the entire area.
RCMP said Tuesday morning there would be an initial set of explosives to set off small avalanches which will stabilize the slopes before searchers entered into the area. One of the survivors, Jeff Adams, joined the rescue teams, returning to the site to help with the search.
RCMP Corporal Chris Faulkner said that once on the scene at 10:30 a.m., searchers located Bjarnason's body in just over an hour.
A church service will be held Tuesday night in Sparwood to honour the men and the three survivors who managed to dig themselves out.
With files from The Canadian Press