CROWSNEST PASS: What started out as a Sunday drive for a trio from the Fort Macleod area resulted in the sudden death of a 71-year old man and an RCMP search for his missing companions.
About 10:30 Monday morning, the Crowsnest Pass RCMP received a 9-1-1 call from a group of snowmobilers who found the body of a deceased man. The body was located approximately seven kilometres north of Coalman on the Kananaskis Road. The snowmobilers, turned out to be off-duty fireman who were familiar with emergency situations and able to relay to RCMP a description of the scene. They noted the unusual circumstances but could not see any indication of foul play. They also relayed the fact that the location was only accessible by snowmobile.
While Crowsnest Pass RCMP were preparing to attend the scene, they received information from Fort Macleod detachment officers that they had been notified that a group of three people from their area had not returned home from an outing the day before. The group included a 71 year old man, his 69 year old wife and another 66 year old lady.
Crowsnest Pass officers left for the scene of the body with the names and information of the missing travelers. When they arrived on-scene, they were able to confirm the deceased man was one of the people who was reported missing.
Patrols further north on the Kananaskis Road located the two ladies hiking south. They were about 10 kilometres from where the deceased man's body was found.
Sergeant Keith Bott says the trio set our for a drive Sunday afternoon but got stuck, "Their vehicle was stuck in heavy snow another 5-kilometres north of where the ladies were located. The wife explained the 71 year old man had left the vehicle to get help at around 3:00 Sunday afternoon and they (the women) left the vehicle on Monday morning when he did not return".
It was left to the officer to explain to the wife wanted had happened to her husband.
The deceased's wife confirmed that he had a 'medical history'. Sergeant Bott was surprised that the man had been able to walk about 15-kilometres before he died. Given the circumstances, Bott said, "I'm going to go out on a limb and say simple hypothermia may have caught up with him. It was a really sad situation".
According to Bott, the Kananaskis road, while a beautiful drive in the summer, is not maintained in the winter. He said the travelers were not dressed for the out-doors but they did the right thing, by making sure they let people know where they were going for the day and when they were expected back. However, Bott stresses, "You should never leave your vehicle when you're in the back-country. As long as you've let someone know where you are going and when you will be back, you should stay with your vehicle. That way, a search team will eventually locate you".
The name of the deceased and his companions was not released.