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Snowboarder in critical condition after snowmobile stunt

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A stunt turned into tragedy last weekend as a local pro snowboarder was rushed to the hospital with critical burns after attempting to catwalk a snowmobile through a nine-metre high wall of flame.

According to the RCMP, he wasn’t wearing any kind of protective gear at the time, and both the snowmobile and rider caught on fire.

The incident occurred Saturday night, July 20, at a party at 1123B Enterprise Way in the Squamish Business Park. Police, fire and ambulance services attended the scene after receiving a 9-1-1 call from the scene at approximately 11:30 p.m.

There they found a severely injured male with burns to the majority of his body. He was treated by emergency crews and transported by ambulance to Squamish General Hospital. Soon after he was airlifted to Vancouver General Hospital where Wednesday he remained in critical but stable condition.

Sources have identified the rider as 23-year-old Josh Chapman, a pro snowboarder who grew up in Squamish and currently resides in Whistler. Last December Chapman was the top Canadian in the FIS Big Air competition in Whistler, finishing fourth overall.

Staff Sergeant Cliff Doherty of the Squamish RCMP detachment could not specify what the extent of the injuries were, but said "he was badly burned. I have been a cop for 27 years and can say that I’m emotionally touched by the extent of his injuries."

The RCMP are in the process of gathering evidence from the site. They are currently treating it like they would an industrial accident, and have not laid charges in the incident.

"We want to understand what took place, get answers to our questions, and see if any offence of any statutes occurred," said Doherty.

According the RCMP the party-goers have been helpful in their investigation. Of the estimated 60 to 70 people who were at the party, around 40 witnesses have already voluntarily come forward to provide information to the police.

Two video cameras caught at least part of the incident, and the RCMP are reviewing those tapes.

"We’d really like to talk to the remaining witnesses to hear their stories as well, or to hear from anyone who has information on this incident," Doherty said. "There are missing pieces that we need people from the party to provide to us."

If you have any information, contact the Squamish Detachment at 604-898-9611.

"And anybody who needs emotional support, the Detachment’s Victim Services Unit is ready to assist and can be contacted through the same number," Doherty said.

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