An Australian man is dead and a woman in hospital after a New Year's Day snowmobiling accident.
Canadian Wilderness Adventures (CWA) issued a statement Sunday saying the 65-year-old man struck a tree at about 11 p.m. while on one of the company's guided evening tours on Blackcomb Mountain.
A 54-year-old Australian female passenger was also injured and taken to a North Vancouver hospital.
"It appears the male driver lost control of the snowmobile which caused him to leave the snowmobile track where he came in contact with the tree," said CWA in the statement.
But, in a follow-up interview on Monday with Whistler RCMP, Staff Sgt. Steve LeClair said he was unsure if the man ever actually hit a tree.
"From reading the (police) file, it’s unclear exactly what happened," he said. "I haven’t been able to determine if there is any trauma on the body or not ... Did he strike the tree or go into the tree slowly? I don’t know. There was a tree down there that he was apparently up against but I don’t know if that contributed to this fatality or not."
In a release Monday, Whistler RCMP said the snowmobile operator was directly behind the tour guide leading the group down the mountain when the man was unable to negotiate a slight right turn and went down an embankment to the left of the groomed trail. Police said the man was found to be in cardiac arrest and CPR was administered on scene by the tour guide. It's unclear if the man went into cardiac arrest before or after the accident.
"This very well may have been simply a cardiac arrest, causing him to go off the trail to the left," said LeClair.
CWA staff and a nursing student on the tour administered first aid until the RCMP, Whistler Fire Department and ambulance crews responded. However, the man died on the scene.
"Canadian Wilderness Adventures wishes to express its sincerest condolences to the family and friends for this sad loss," the statement continued.
The BC Coroners Service is investigating. A toxicology report will determine if alcohol was a factor in the incident.
An email Sunday from Barb McLintock said the coroners service would not be able to confirm additional details of the accident until Monday.
More to come as information becomes available.
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