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Snowmobiler dies near McPherson

Chris Hunsley
Northern News Services

Fort McPherson (Mar 25/05) - A Fort McPherson man is believed to have died from hypothermia after he and a friend were caught in overflow Monday while travelling via snowmobile to a camp 40 kilometres from Fort McPherson.

A small search party was dispatched around 10:30 p.m. March 21 after friends and family were unable to contact the men via bush radio.

Shortly after 11 p.m., one of the missing men was found near the Husky Channel, 15 km from town, frozen beside a fire, wearing only his coveralls. His travelling partner, who encountered the search party on his way back to town, returned home unharmed.

Neither man had food or means of communication. RCMP Sgt. Cliff McKay said the man was soaking wet from the overflow, became hypothermic and removed his jacket and boots, leaving him exposed to the elements.

There was a heavy north wind and blowing snow that day, said McKay.

Poor visibility could have contributed to the men getting stuck, explained Billy Wilson, one of the searchers who found the dead man.

With all the snow this year there is a lot of overflow and, if they had difficulty seeing and travelled off the beaten path, it would be easy to get stuck, he said.

"Right it's really bad the overflow on the lakes and rivers," said Wilson.

"There's a lot of water and it doesn't matter how deep it is. If your skidoo gets stuck, you're stuck."