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

Shuswap shows love for musician battling brain tumour

More than $10,000 raised during seven-hour benefit concert for John Fleming

Nineteen boats carrying invasive mussels stopped at B.C. borders

Waters of Columbia-Shuswap still test mussel-free

Dallas Smith, Terri Clark to perform on CP Holiday Train’s Shuswap stops

Annual festive food bank fundraiser rolling into region on Dec. 14

Salmon Arm farmer’s market moved indoors

The last market will take place Dec. 7

Teen with cancer whose viral video urged Canadians to vote has died, uncle tweets

Maddison Yetman had been looking forward to voting in her first federal election since junior high school

Rowing Canada, UVic investigate celebrated coach for harassment, abuse

Lily Copeland says she felt intimidated and trapped by Williams

Cleanup in the works after tanker truck fire leads to oil spill in B.C.’s Peace region

The province said the majority of the spilled oil likely burned away in the fire.

BC VIEWS: Action needed on healthcare workplace violence

While we’ve been talking about it, the number of B.C. victims has only grown

Closing arguments begin in B.C. case launched in 2009 over private health care

Dr. Day said he illegally opened the Cambie Surgery Centre in 1996 in order to create more operating-room time

MacLean says “Coach’s Corner is no more” following Cherry’s dismissal from Hockey Night

Cherry had singled out new immigrants in for not honouring Canada’s veterans and fallen soldiers

MacKinnon powers Avs to 5-4 OT win over Canucks

Vancouver battled back late to pick up single point

Poole’s Land finale: Tofino’s legendary ‘hippie commune’ being dismantled

Series of land-use fines inspire owner Michael Poole to sell the roughly 20-acre property.

Port Alberni mom takes school district to court over Indigenous smudging, prayer in class

Candice Servatius, who is an evangelical Christian, is suing School District 70

Most Read