A snowmobiler was declared dead after becoming stuck in a tree well near Fernie on Jan. 31, according to Fernie Search and Rescue (SAR).
The 47-year-old sledder was reported to be trapped in a tree well in the Morrissey area via a cell phone call by his son. Fernie SAR was activated by the Elk Valley RCMP in the afternoon on Friday.
“With light running out the Fernie SAR technicians were dropped at Fernie Wilderness Adventures (FWA) and proceeded to the scene with the assistance of FWA via snowmobile and cat,” said Fernie SAR on their Facebook page.
The SAR team worked with guides to locate and recover the sledder but unfortunately the sledder “was recovered deceased.”
Tree wells are formed when low branches at the base of coniferous trees stop the snow from compacting and settling around the trunk. As a result, people who venture too close to a tree may inadvertently fall into one, which can be fatal if they are unable to get out.
This was the second activation for Fernie SAR on January 31. The first call came at approximately 3 p.m. for an InReach activation in the Flathead. According to SAR, two technicians responded via Ascent Helicopter but the S.O.S was discovered to be a false activation.
After another tree well related death at Fernie Alpine Resort on January 17, residents and visitors to the area are encouraged to use caution when partaking in snow activities.