Skier Sues RCMP, Resort and Search and Rescue Team

May 9, 2009

accident, Negligence

Golden, BC

A negligence action has been filed by a man who watched his wife freeze to death after the couple skied out-of-bounds at a British Columbia resort.  Gilles Blackburn is suing the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and Golden & District Search and Rescue for failing to initiate a search and rescue operation. 

Mr. Blackburn and his wife, Marie-Josée Fortin, were missing for about nine days and had stamped out numerous SOS distress signals which went unheeded, the statement of claim alleges.  Ms. Fortin died of hypothermia after seven days.

“They cried out for help and the people charged with the obligation of search and rescue did nothing,” says Mr. Blackburn’s lawyer, Nancy Wilhelm-Morden.

The suit says the RCMP, the resort and the search and rescue group “all equipped with the knowledge of the SOS signals … negligently failed to initiate or conduct a search for the plaintiff or Ms. Fortin or otherwise properly investigate the source and significance of the SOS signals.”

Search and rescue lawsuits are exceptionally rare.  It is clear that a response should have been initiated quicker and the RCMP have already apologized for not authorizing a search sooner.  The challenge of the plaintiff will be to prove that the parties had a duty to respond, that the defendants’ actions or inactions were a breach of the required standard of care, and that their failure to respond faster caused or contributed to Ms. Fortin’s death.  No statements of defence have yet been filed.

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One Comment on “Skier Sues RCMP, Resort and Search and Rescue Team”

  1. Mark Kinsman Says:

    Pretty funny how some person who bypassed a “DO NOT ENTER” sign while skiing out of bounds, while not stating to anyone where they were skiing, end up lost with one dying and he still thinks that the resort should be at fault?!?! Hey the resort has their bacon covered with that little detail called the “No Skiing In Back Country Sign” “Do Not Enter” usually to me that means ski within boundaries and if I’m stupid enough to cross the boundaries, thats totally ludicris!!! It’s like me petting the cougar at the zoo while ignoring the signs “Do Not Stick Hands Inside Cage” It’s an unfortunate incident to lose a life but if you don’t follow the rules?? Your fate is in the hands of mother nature in this case and mother nature won. If I were a judge I wouldn’t even open up the case. Maybe next time he’ll learn to ski within the boundaries


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