Vegreville man identified as one of 5 Albertans killed in B.C. avalanche

Five snowmobilers were killed in an avalanche Friday in the Renshaw area, about 20 kilometres northwest of McBride on Jan. 29, 2016. Global News

“It definitely hits home…We’ve all got family. It all hurts,” Vegreville Mayor Myron Hayduk said.

A Vegreville man, Vince Loewen, was one of five Alberta men killed Friday in an avalanche near McBride, B.C.

B.C. RCMP said the five men ranged in age from their early 40s to mid-50s. RCMP said all the victims’ next of kin had been notified.

The B.C. Coroners Service identified the men Saturday afternoon:

  • Vincent Loewen, 52, from Vegreville;
  • Tony Greenwood, 41, from Grande Prairie County;
  • Ricky Robinson, 55, from Spruce Grove;
  • Todd Chisholm, 47, from St. Albert;
  • John Garley, 49, from Stony Plain.

The avalanche happened around 1:30 p.m. in the Renshaw snowmobiling area, about 20 kilometres northwest of McBride. Two other people were injured, and one was sent to hospital in stable condition. RCMP said Saturday all those who were injured had been released from hospital.

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READ MORE: 5 dead after apparent human-triggered avalanche near McBride, B.C. 

“They were very prepared,” Dale Mason, manager for the Robson Valley Search and Rescue Team, said. “They were very experienced and prepared,” Cpl. Jay Grierson said.

RCMP said 17 people, making up four groups, were involved in the slide. Many of them were able to rescue themselves, RCMP said.

“I believe those groups… did a fantastic job,” Mason said. “They couldn’t have done anything better.”

The pastor of Two Hills Fellowship Chapel sent out a request for prayers on Facebook Saturday.

“Sympathies to the Loewen family as Brian’s brother Vince died in an avalanche while snowmobiling,” Warren Charlton wrote. “Vince died in the Lord, which is a great comfort, but please pray for the entire Loewen family.”

Mayor Hayduk said he first heard about the deadly avalanche Friday night.

“Especially when you are going out for a good time and something like this happens.”

READ MORE: Village is coming together after deadly avalanche: McBride mayor 

He said the town council will do all it can to support the families involved and described the community as “very, very close.”

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“I tell you, from personal experience, Vegreville has been a very supportive community… in times of tragedy, in times like this…It’s just not a good situation.”

Hayduk said he knows a number of people who were sledding in the Renshaw area Friday.

“Just to let the families know that if anything is needed, all you have to do is ask and we will do all that we can.”

Vegreville is 100 kilometres east of Edmonton.

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