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‘He made me so proud’: father of Alberta man killed in BC avalanche

WATCH ABOVE: Friends and family are mourning the loss of two men killed in an avalanche over the weekend. Lisa Wolansky spoke to one grieving father.

CALGARY — Friends and family are mourning the loss of two Alberta men killed in an avalanche in B.C. on Saturday.

RCMP say four men were snowmobiling in the lower Doré River drainage area near the village of McBride when the avalanche occurred.

Three of the four men were caught in the avalanche, but one was able to dig himself out. The two others were killed.

The victims have been identified as 29-year-old Tom Hamilton of Ponoka and 36-year-old Curtis Fries of Sherwood Park.

“[Curtis’ wife] Kristy phoned me… and she told me that Curtis had been hit by an avalanche and that he wasn’t coming home,” said Claude Fries.
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Claude said his son had been sledding that hill six years in a row and always prioritized safety.

“He never ever took chances. If there were any warnings out he wouldn’t go sledding that weekend… He was always safe.”

He said Curtis wore an avalanche backpack and avalanche beacon.

READ MORE: What causes avalanches?

“Curtis got caught going down. He never saw it coming, so he never got to activate his safety device,” Claude explained.

“He was buried under 12 feet of snow. He was wearing the beacon. They found him right away, where he was. But it took an hour to dig him out. They did CPR on him for an hour and he was crushed.

“The weight of the snow killed him, probably instantly.”

Claude shared Curtis loved the outdoors, was an avid sledder and fisherman, and died doing what he loved.

“He made me so proud. And not because he caught a couple of big fish… because the way he conducted his life.”

“He was my kid but he was a great boy,” Claude said, his voice breaking. “He was a great man.”

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Curtis Fries, 36, a Sherwood Park man killed in a B.C. avalanche.
Curtis Fries, 36, a Sherwood Park man killed in a B.C. avalanche. Courtesy: Family
Curtis Fries, 36, a Sherwood Park man killed in a B.C. avalanche.
Curtis Fries, 36, a Sherwood Park man killed in a B.C. avalanche. Courtesy: Family
Curtis Fries, 36, a Sherwood Park man killed in a B.C. avalanche.
Curtis Fries, 36, a Sherwood Park man killed in a B.C. avalanche. Courtesy: Family

The proud father described his son has an extremely hard worker, the owner and operator of Pro Trac Gear. Claude said Curtis would devote his week to the shop and then take off to enjoy the outdoors on the weekends.

“He was doing what he loved. He called it the top of the world. He said ‘we’re going to the top of the world dad.'”

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“I’m going to miss Curtis a lot,” shared Claude. “He was my buddy, he was my friend and he was my son. I loved him so much.”

A funeral will be held on Friday at 2 p.m. at the Connelly-McKinley Funeral Home.

Tom Hamilton
Tom Hamilton. Facebook / Kinsmen Club of Ponoka

Tom Hamilton was a husband, father and avid snowmobiler who worked at the IGA grocery store in Ponoka. He was a member of the Kinsmen Club of Ponoka, which has expressed heartache over his loss.

“It is with great sadness that we inform you that Tom Hamilton has been found and is no longer with us,” said a post on their Facebook page. “With this the family can now have closure and move on to the long process of healing. Please keep the entire Hamilton family in your prayers throughout this very difficult time.”

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Ponoka Mayor Rick Bonnett said Hamilton was a big part of the central Alberta town.

“He was on various organizations and boards. It’s a tragic loss for our community,” said Bonnett.

WATCH: Ponoka Mayor Rick Bonnett speaks to Global Calgary’s Dallas Flexhaug about Hamilton.