“Larry and Matt Burdiga were tragically lost in an avalanche accident . . . doing what they love most, sledding,” reads a GoFundMe set up to help support the family.
Avalanche Canada said that a group of snowmobilers were on the southeast side of Mount Brewer in the Purcell Mountains on Saturday when an avalanche was triggered. The group of nine, visiting the area from Calgary, were caught in an avalanche that was triggered while one of the snowmobilers was “high marking” — an activity in which a snowmobile operator tries to ride as far as possible up a steep slope.
Two of the snowmobilers were “caught in a very large” 200- to 400-meter-wide slab of snow, which moved nearly a kilometer down the mountain before coming to a small lake.
The body of Larry Burdiga, 51, was recovered two meters below the snow by members of the Columbia Valley RCMP and a local search and rescue team. Columbia Valley Search and Rescue located the body of his son Matt, 24, early on Monday but RCMP said his body could not be recovered until later that day when RCMP Underwater Recovery Divers were able to enter the water.
“The world has lost two of the brightest lights,” the GoFundMe post stated.
Avalanche Canada said a signal from an avalanche beacon had been recorded “on the lake where debris is floating on the water,” noting Larry was able to activate his emergency avalanche airbag. The B.C. Coroners Service is investigating the deaths of both men.
As of Monday, the avalanche danger in the Purcell Mountains was rated at high in the upper alpine region and considered considerable at the tree line. Anyone heading into the backcountry is advised to carry the proper safety equipment. Avalanche Canada recommends packing avalanche transceivers, an airbag, a shovel, and an emergency radio before heading into avalanche territory.