Sleddermag.com posted this photo and wrote “Rene (right) had an unmatched passion for sharing the backcountry with others, like friend Geoff Kyle.”

Snowmobile guide killed in accident on Queest Mountain

Shuswap sledding communty mourns loss of experienced Sicamous snowmobiler

A beloved member of Sicamous’ snowmobile community is dead following a tragic accident on Queest Mountain.

Eagle Valley Snowmobile Club general manager Gord Bushell says he and the snowmobiling community are saddened by the loss of Rene St. Onge, who died in an accident Sunday, Dec. 9, while riding with a group of sledders on Queest.

“It’s going to be a terrible loss for the snowmobile community and the community itself,” said Bushell.

An RCMP report states a 51-year-old resident of Sicamous was riding with a group of five other snowmobilers when his sled rolled into a creek bed, pinning him underneath.

Individuals in the group administered CPR but were unsuccessful.

Sicamous RCMP received a report of a possible fatal snowmobile accident on Queest at 2:55 p.m. The RCMP then contacted Shuswap Search and Rescue (SSAR).

The SSAR team was able to locate the group and get them out of the area. However, police say removal of the deceased was “not possible at that time due to the terrain, darkness and weather conditions.”

Bushell and members of the snowmobile club assisted with the rescue and recovery effort. According to SSAR, the Vernon SAR winch team was called in on Dec. 10 to assist with recovery efforts but could not access the area due to weather conditions.

Shuswap Search and Rescue and snowmobile club members were able to get St. Onge’s body off the mountain by that evening.

Bushell describes St. Onge as an avid and very skilled sledder.

St. Onge was both a director of the Eagle Valley Snowmobile Club and president of the Shuswap Backcountry Riders.

Tammy Chopick-Chouinard, a member of the Backcountry Riders club, said she is feeling saddened by his loss but remains committed to continuing on with the causes he championed. She said during St. Onge’s time as president, the club grew from a small organization on the verge of closure to more than 100 people attending their most recent AGM in November.

Chopick-Chouinard said St. Onge was a committed advocate for keeping the backcountry open to recreational users.

Along with a loss of direction for the club, Chopick-Chouinard lamented the loss of St. Onge’s friendly and helpful presence in the community.

“He was just helpful in general; if you were lost on the mountain he was the first person they called,” she said.

“The guy had a huge heart. He was always willing to assist somebody and help somebody; he was a good teacher and a leader.”

St. Onge was also instrumental in the restoration of the historic Eagle Pass Summit fire lookout.

Related:Fate of Eagle Pass lookout in hands of bureaucracy

“We’re building it for a legacy to the people that built the place, manned the place, worked there,” he told the Eagle Valley News in a 2017 interview about the project.

St. Onge said he hoped the lookout would be a valuable tourism amenity for use by anyone who enjoys the Shuswap’s mountains.

Before getting into the business of snowmobile-focused accommodations by opening Eagle Valley Lodge, St. Onge was a high school teacher at Eagle River Secondary.

Derek Rouselle, who was in St. Onge’s shop class when he was in Grade 9 and 10, described him as an awesome teacher who always created an engaging classroom experience. After Rouselle graduated high school and St. Onge opened the lodge, Rouselle stored his snowmobile there and said he took amazing care of all his clients.

“He was 100 per cent devoted to the sport, whether it be taking tours out or restoring things and putting forth an effort on a personal level to make sledding more comfortable and put Sicamous on the map for sledding,” Rouselle said.

Police are providing support to St. Onge’s next of kin, and assisting the BC Coroners Service with their investigation into the death.


@SalmonArm
jim.elliot@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Work on the Eagle Pass Summit fire lookout, was a passion project for Rene St. Onge. (Photo contributed)

Rene St. Onge is pictured on a sledding trip earlier this year. (Sledgehammers/Facebook)

Just Posted

Lake Country resident takes gold at 55+ games

Les Gilbert demonstrated a dominant at the men’s singles championship 55+ games

Kelowna city council green lights new park charge

City wants to introduce a new development cost charge to create new parks

Kelowna boy returns to school after recovering from possible Xanax OD

RCMP investigation found the drug to be a form of benzodiazepine, commonly known as Valium or Xanax

RCMP seeking assistance to locate missing West Kelowna resident

Kasey-Anne Balaberda was reported missing on Sept. 15

VIDEO: Liberals make child care pledge, Greens unveil platform on Day 6 of campaign

Green party leader Elizabeth May unveils her party’s platform in Toronto

Penticton fighter announces pro MMA debut with Battlefield Fight League

Marlan ‘Pretty Boy’ Hall will be taking the ring on Nov. 16 at the Hard Rock Casino in Coquitlam

Canucks sign Brock Boeser to three-year, US$17.6-million deal

Young sniper will be in Vancouver Tuesday

B.C. forest industry looks to a high-technology future

Restructuring similar to Europe 15 years ago, executive says

RCMP conclude investigation into 2017 Elephant Hill wildfire

Files have been turned over to BC Prosecution Service

B.C. wants to be part of global resolution in opioid company bankruptcy claim

Government says settlement must include Canadian claims for devastation created by overdose crisis

B.C. ends ‘birth alerts’ in child welfare cases

‘Social service workers will no longer share information about expectant parents without consent’

U.S. student, killed in Bamfield bus crash, remembered as ‘kind, intelligent, talented’

John Geerdes, 18, was one of two UVic students killed in the crash on Friday night

Facebook group forms committee against Thompson Nicola R.V. crackdown

Group discusses issues with regional R.V. bylaw at recent meeting

Most Read