One man is in hospital in Vancouver after a serious back injury caused by a snowmobile collision on Jan. 26.
The victim has since undergone surgery and there does not appear to be injury to the spinal cord.
A group of 12 people reportedly went out for a day of sledding off the Leo Creek Road near Fort St. James on Saturday, Jan. 26, and were on their way back to their vehicles the same evening when a crash took place.
One of those involved in the crash, Sky Perreault, said he was struck from behind by someone in their group as he was riding down the trail alongside another snowmobile from the group.
RCMP said snow being thrown up from the leading sleds may have reduced visibility for those following.
The second snowmobile was carrying two people, and all three were thrown from their sleds.
“The next thing I know I just hear ‘crunch,’ -that’s what I remember- and I’m flying through the air,” said Perreault.
“I kept asking ‘What happened?’”
A third snowmobiler was then unable to avoid striking one of the accident victims with his machine as he was laying on the trail.
The young man who sustained serious injury to his back was taken by ambulance to Prince George and then flown to Vancouver early in the morning on Jan. 27, when he underwent surgery.
The other persons involved in the crash were not seriously injured, and were checked by medical personnel and released.
The injured man’s helmet was broken into pieces in the collision, and it likely saved his life, in combination with the first aid training of the rest of the group, who kept the injured man immobile while waiting for medical assistance.
As well, a good samaritan, unknown to the group, was instrumental in helping to get the injured man to the ambulance, by stopping and offering the assistance of his snowmobile and skimmer, which they used to transport the patient.
RCMP attended the scene and do not believe alcohol to be a factor in the accident, but are cautioning snowmobilers to keep safe riding distances between sleds, especially in white-out-like conditions with flying snow.
Tl’azt’en First Nation also responded to the scene with their fire crew, which the RCMP said was appreciated.