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

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)

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)

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

Just Posted

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce will host the Valley Wide Business Expo May 4 at Predator Ridge Resort. (photo submitted)
Golf raffle helps Okanagan families score homes

Habitat for Humanity Okanagan swinging into action this summer with a new raffle

The weekly COVID-19 map for June 6 to 12. (BC CDC)
South Okanagan sees only 5 new cases in last week

The Similkameen Valley went a second week without any new cases

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Starting in 2022, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is extending dog control to the entire Electoral Area D. (Stock photo)
Dog control bylaw passes in Shuswap area despite ‘threatening’ emails

CSRD board extending full dog control in Electoral Area D starting next year

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read