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Body of Quebec man found near Wedge Creek

Fatality highlights need to be prepared in backcountry



By Clare Ogilvie

An out of bounds fatality has search and rescue members once again warning people not to head into the backcountry unless they know what they are doing.

“People cannot go out of bounds without knowledge, preparation, telling others where they are headed, and going with people who are knowledgeable,” said Brad Sills, head of Whistler’s Search and Rescue.

“It is absolutely foolish to travel out there by yourself and this (fatality) unfortunately is the result. It is what everyone has been warning people about.

“If you think you are going to go outside those boundaries with a little bit of knowledge you are clearly running this risk.”

Last Sunday SAR discovered the body of 34-year-old Roch Langlois of Quebec alongside Wedge Creek, on the Green Lake side.

It’s likely he died of extreme exposure, said Sills, given the evidence found by the rescuers. An autopsy was to be performed.

No one will ever know why Langlois headed out of bounds off Blackcomb Mountain. He left his friends at the top of the Crystal Chair at about 2: 30 p.m. Thursday March 1 st .

But as search and rescue members followed first his ski tracks down the north side of the mountain, then found his abandoned skis near the creek before following meandering ski boot footprints back up the slope it was clear the tourist was confused.

“It was indicative of irrational behaviour,” said Sills.

By the time SAR was in the air and on the ground Sunday Langlois hadn’t been seen for two and a half days.

His friends had reported him missing to RCMP March 2 but, said RCMP Cst. Ann Marie Gallop, “they weren’t overly concerned about him.” Police launched the search after contacting the friends, who were staying in Squamish, on Saturday and finding Langlois to still be missing.

Believed to be an only child, Langlois had been dealing with personal issues, said Sills, which may have contributed to his decision-making. And he had been known to go off on his own for a couple of days at a time.

When rescuers initially found the tracks they had every hope of finding Langlois alive. It hadn’t been that cold, hardly any fresh snow had fallen and people have survived up to six days when lost in the backcountry.

Before heading out Sunday morning at first light Sills had spent Saturday night calling anyone who uses the search area backcountry, including heli-skiing companies, park rangers and others as well as speaking with the friends and family of Langlois.