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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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

Volunteers have been hard at work clearing the Salmon Arm Snowblazers’ trail system. (Salmon Arm Snowblazers-Facebook)
Salmon Arm Snowblazers plan for sledding season affected by pandemic

Club feeling fundraising pinch after events cancelled due to virus.

Steven Stuart Gardner has been charged with possession of a firearm contrary to an order and possession of a firearm without a licence. He has also been charged, under the Motor Vehicle Act, with driving while prohibited. (Crime Stoppers photo)
Car connected to shooting, dumped in Chase leads to unrelated arrest

Investigation of Kamloops shooting leads police to a rural Chase property

COVID-19 test tube. (Contributed)
test tube with the blood test is on the table next to the documents. Positive test for coronavirus covid-19. The concept of fighting a dangerous Chinese disease.
Interior Health launches online booking for COVID-19 tests

Testing is available to anyone with cold, influenza or COVID-19-like symptoms

Despite health and safety measures put in place for its July 3 reopening, the Salmar Grand hasn’t seen the audience numbers needed to remain open seven days a week. (File photo)
Salmon Arm’s Salmar Grand movie theatre reduces days of operation

Lack of new movie releases, limited audience numbers lead to decision

School District 83 will see another teacher reduction, this one expected at South Broadview Elementary come Monday, Oct. 26. (File photo)
Union objects to reductions in teaching positions in North Okanagan-Shuswap

South Broadview Elementary expected to see reduction of kindergarten teacher on Oct. 26

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A 20-year-old man was pronounced dead following a three vehicle collision on Highway 1 west of Revelstoke Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020. (File photo)
One dead after Highway 1 crash near Revelstoke

20-year-old man pronounced dead at the scene of a three vehicle collision west of Revelstoke

Volunteer registered nurse Stephanie Hamilton recieves a swab from a driver as she works at a Covid-19 testing site in the parking lot at Everett Memorial Stadium on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020 in Everett, Washington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
13 more COVID-19 cases in Interior Health region

There are 624 cases in the region since the start of the pandemic

The body of Natsumi Kogawa, 30, was found in the Gabriola Mansion on Davie Street, Vancouver, in September 2016. Vernon man William Schneider, who was found guilty of second-degree murder, now awaits the decision of his appeal hearing Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. (Vancouver Police Department photo)
No decision yet for Vernon man appealing murder sentence

William Victor Schneider was convicted in relation to Natsumi Kogawa’s death in 2016

Vernon once again boasts the lowest gas prices in B.C. Oct. 20, 2020. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
North Okanagan boasts lowest gas prices in B.C.

Gas going up, and down, in Vernon specifically

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

École de L’Anse-au-sable. (Google Maps)
COVID-19 confirmed at Kelowna Francophone school

École de L’Anse-au-sable is not affiliated with local SD23

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP received footage of a suspect vehicle littering hate flyers around 21st Avenue in Vernon Oct. 17, 2020. (RCMP)
WATCH: Footage offers lead in hate-fuelled flyer probe: Vernon Mounties

Vernon police received footage of an older model green truck distributing flyers in the early morning hours Saturday

Most Read