WEST VANCOUVER, B.C. – An official says a 33-year-old snowboarder from Ottawa who was rescued from a wilderness area north of Vancouver can expect a hefty bill for searchers’ efforts.
Sebastien Boucher got lost on Sunday after straying out of bounds near the Cypress Mountain ski area.
Initial attempts to find him were hampered by poor weather and the risk of avalanches, but searchers managed to locate his tracks late Tuesday in a gully near the Sea-to-Sky Highway.
A Cormorant helicopter was brought in late Tuesday to lift him out of the area and take him to safety, and he was found to be in stable condition despite his ordeal.
Joffrey Koeman of Cypress Mountain said Wednesday that Boucher could be fined up to $10,000 but even that fee won’t cover all the costs.
He said Boucher made several mistakes, ignored warning signs, ventured into the backcountry alone, didn’t stay in one spot and didn’t call for help in a timely manner.
“From our staff, there was probably 50 people that were involved in this, right from security, dispatch, base operations, ski patrol, grooming, down to senior managers following the story, so definitely a lot of hard cost to Cypress for such a long rescue,” he said.
The money from a fine would be donated back to North Shore Search and Rescue, said Koeman.
Meantime, Boucher’s mother Micheline Simoneau has praised the rescue team, calling them “angels” and “the best in the world”.
Tim Jones of North Shore Search and Rescue said he’s begging skiers and boarders to stay within the boundaries.
“When there is a high avalanche hazard, stay in bounds and stay out of the back country: that is our message,” he said.
The rescue came in the nick of time as a new snowstorm barrelled down on the Metro Vancouver area, following one on Tuesday that snarled morning commuter traffic.