Tragic avalanche in Chic-Choc mountains claims 3 lives

In the wake of a distressing avalanche in the Chic-Choc Mountains located on Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula, three individuals have lost their lives. The incident unfolded late Tuesday afternoon when Quebec’s provincial police were alerted by a snowbiker in the La Martre area, close to Mont Médaille, about the disaster that had ensued, leaving three of their companions unaccounted for.

The party had been navigating the terrain on snowbikes, a hybrid of dirt bikes, equipped with a front ski and rear caterpillar tread, when the avalanche struck.

A search operation was promptly initiated on the ground, with the Sûreté du Québec’s (SQ) avalanche team being supported by firefighters from the adjacent Sainte-Anne-des-Monts and ambulance services.

The search culminated around 11 p.m. with the discovery of the three snowbikers, who were then rushed to a hospital where their deaths were confirmed by SQ spokesperson Frédéric Deshaies.

The deceased have been identified by the coroner as Joël Crête, 35, from Coaticook; Nicolas Vanasse, 30, also from Coaticook; and Bryan Forgues Morissette, 33, from Saint-Denis-de-Brompton.

Jack Verrecchia, who runs the Sled Den offering guidance and lessons in the Chic-Choc Mountains, was among those who heard about the calamity. Despite rushing to offer assistance, he quickly realized that the chances of rescue were slim. The recovery operation, hampered by manpower shortages, underscored the challenges faced in such dire circumstances.

Verrecchia remarked on the inexperience of the victims with the treacherous segment of the mountain they had ventured onto. He noted that the sole survivor had been filming from a safe distance and detailed the sequence of events leading up to the avalanche’s trigger.

He also highlighted the general underestimation of avalanche risks in the region, emphasizing the critical window for rescue in avalanche situations and the tragic assumption of safety often made by those exploring the area.

This incident serves as a stark reminder of the unpredictable nature of mountainous terrains and the imperative need for preparedness and caution.–Web Desk