News » Whistler

Young girl buried by snow sliding off roof

Snowshed on buildings poses danger of serious injury, suffocation



A 12-year-old girl was knocked unconscious last week after a mini-avalanche slid off the roof of a home, burying her up to her head in heavy snow.

“That little girl could have died. If her mother hadn’t been there, she would have died,” said George Cook, a friend of the mother, who later helped shovel the rest of the snow off the roof.

“The snow almost suffocated her, it was so heavy,” he added.

The girl was playing outside the home in Whistler Cay on Friday, Jan. 4 around 4:30 p.m. when the snowpack slid off of the roof.

According to Cook, the girl’s mother heard the noise from indoors and went outside to see what happened. She then realized her daughter was buried and immediately called 911.

Whistler Fire Rescue Services were on scene within seven minutes.

The girl was found lying on the ground with the snow piled heavy on top of her body and head.

“By the time they got her all dug out and packed up and shipped to the clinic, she was conscious and talking coherently,” said Fire Chief Rob Whitton.

Rescuer’s initially worried that the girls’ back was injured. She was later determined to be okay and returned home the next morning.

“I saw her on (Jan. 6), and she was just bruised up,” said Cook.

Whitton added that there was also damage to the house. A small roof protecting the entrance to the suite of the home was ripped right off when the snowpack fell.

According to Whitton, this type of accident doesn’t happen a lot, but there have been several cases over the last couple of years, including an older lady that was hit.

“People really need to be aware of their surroundings,” said Whitton.

“We’ve had a very serious weekend with avalanches and just because we are living in a town environment doesn’t mean we can’t experience these mini avalanches from the roofs. And they can be just as deadly,” he warned.

Cook, who has shoveled snow off Whistler roofs for 20 years, also said that snow seems to be falling off roofs with more force this year.

“I am a little concerned about somebody getting seriously hurt this year,” he said.

He added that usually he does not start shoveling snow until the end of February, but this year he has already starting on the roofs of a few homes.

“Last year we had some areas where it was five-feet deep. Some areas were as big as Lincoln Continentals. And I cleared a lot of them that were dangerous,” said Cook.

“But we are getting them a lot earlier this year than last year. And it just seems to be sliding more,” he said, adding that a car in Whistler’s Marketplace Shopping Centre was recently crushed by falling snow.