One of the five men killed in an avalanche Friday near McBride, B.C. is being described as a caring man who loved the outdoors and a proud father who was married to his best friend.
John Garley, 49, from the Stony Plain area, was among the four groups – a total of 17 people – who were partially or completely buried in the slide. Many managed to dig themselves out, or were rescued, but five men, all from Alberta, did not survive: Vincent Eugene Loewen, 52, of Vegreville; Tony Christopher Greenwood, 41, from Grande Prairie County; Ricky Robinson, 55, from Spruce Grove; Todd William Chisholm, 47, of St. Albert; and Garley.
Garley’s friend Dale Monaghan, speaking on behalf of the family, said the 49-year-old passed away doing one of the things he loved: “enjoying the majestic Canadian outdoors with friends.”
“An avid and very experienced outdoorsman and snowmobiler, John was always prepared for adventure in having the most up-to-date avalanche and emergency preparedness training, was well equipped with safety gear and always adventured with safety in mind; on Friday, January 29, no matter the preparedness and support of rescuers, John unfortunately passed away.”
“John was a caring and loving man, at over six feet and of large body structure, he was affectionately known to many as ‘big John’ or ‘Johnny.’
“John cared for and valued friendships dearly and for this he had many close friends, many of whom enjoyed with John and his family the incredible Canadian outdoors,” Monaghan said.
Monaghan was sledding another mountain in the area with his daughter when the avalanche happened. He was shocked to hear Garley had been killed.
“All who knew John were aware he valued [a] close and special relationship with friends though all knew it was his love for his family that made John so special. John’s eyes always lit up and he would dawn a large smile when talking about his girls, his love of his life and best friend wife Janine, and their two daughters Jacquelyn and Jessica.
“John’s girls were everything to John.
“He was so proud of the young ladies his daughters had become, their pursuit of new horizons and opportunities,” Monaghan said, “and his shared experiences with Janine camping, touring on their Harley-Davidson, talks around the camp fire and any other time spent with Janine was absolutely cherished by John.”
The Garley family thanked the search and rescuers, RCMP, Village of McBride and the snowmobiling community “who is a tight-knit group of enthusiasts who care deeply about one another.”
“We are thinking of the other four snowmobilers who as well passed away (and their families), along with John’s friends who were with him when the avalanche occurred and who worked so hard to rescue John.
“Being involved with this type of situation one cannot fathom the agony of being there and doing all one can to save a friend,” Monaghan said. “On behalf of the Garleys and the entire Garley friendship circle, we thank you gentlemen for who you are, what [you] did and we are here for you as well as you grieve.”
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