A beloved member of Sicamous’ snowmobile community is dead following a tragic accident on Queest Mountain.
Eagle Valley Snowmobile Club president Gord Bushell says he and the snowmobiling community are saddened by the loss of Rene St. Onge, who was accidentally killed Sunday, Dec. 9, while riding with a group of sledders on Queest.
“It’s going to be a terrible loss for the snowmobile community and the community itself,” said Bushell.
An RCMP report states a 51-year-old resident of Sicamous was guiding a group of five other snowmobilers when his sled rolled into a creek bed, pinning him underneath.
Individuals in the group administered CPR but were unsuccessful.
Sicamous RCMP received a report of a possible fatal snowmobile accident on Queest at 2:55 p.m. The RCMP then contacted Shuswap Search and Rescue (SSAR).
The SSAR team was able to locate the group and get them out of the area. However, police say removal of the deceased was “not possible at that time due to the terrain, darkness and weather conditions.”
Bushell and members of the snowmobile club assisted with the rescue and recovery effort. According to SSAR the Vernon SAR winch team was called in on Dec. 10 to assist with recovery efforts but could not access the area due to weather conditions. Shuswap Search and Rescue and snowmobile club members were eventually able to get St. Onge’s body off the mountain.
Bushell describes St. Onge as an avid and very skilled sledder.
St. Onge was both a club director of the Eagle Valley Snowmobile Club and president of the Shuswap Backcountry Riders.
He was instrumental in the restoration of the historic Eagle Pass Summit fire lookout.
It is with disbelief and heavy hearts that we share our tribute to Rene St Onge, a larger-than-life sledder who shared his passion for adventure with so many of our community. RIP Rene. https://t.co/ymeQ4hTbQH
— Mountain Sledder (@sleddermag) December 10, 2018
“We’re building it for a legacy to the people that built the place, manned the place, worked there,” he told the Eagle Valley News in a 2017 interview about the project.
St. Onge said he hoped the lookout would be a valuable tourism amenity for use by anyone who enjoys the Shuswap mountains.
Police are providing support to St. Onge’s next of kin, and are assisting the BC Coroners Service with their investigation into the death.