NELSON — The second off-duty officer who was trapped in an avalanche in the interior of BC earlier this month died from his injuries.
Nelson Const Police Service. Mathieu Nolet suffered severe internal injuries and died Saturday morning at a Kelowna hospital, Chief Donovan Fisher said in a video statement.
The officers were skiing near Kaslo, on a mountain pass 60 kilometers north of Nelson on January 9, when a large avalanche swept them down the mountain.
Nolet managed to call a nearby group of skiers for help and they dug up Const. Wade Tittemore, 43, emerged from the snow, but when rescue helicopters arrived, he had no vital signs.
Both men involved were well-trained, experienced cross-country skiers and outdoor enthusiasts with the proper equipment, probes and beacons with them, the chief said.
“Matt chose to live in Nelson, to call it home, because he loved the country. He loved the Nelson community. He loved everything he had to offer. We will all miss him dearly.”
Fisher called the news, which followed closely the Tittemore memorial last Wednesday, is “devastating.”
“Const. Nolet was a dedicated, caring and positive young officer with nothing but promise for the future at the Nelson Police Department,” Fisher said in the video.
He said he visited Nolet in the hospital several times.
“I was upbeat and positive, as much as I could be given the circumstances,” Fisher said. “She passed away with his fiancée, his sister and his parents with him in Kelowna.”
Nolet, who was 28, worked in Nelson for just over a year after serving a year with the Calgary Police Service.
The Nelson Police Service has just 20 officers and the RCMP have been helping to cover shifts.
On the day of the avalanche, Kaslo search and rescue manager Mark Jennings-Bates said several volunteers from the team helicoptered to the scene when they were told two skiers had become trapped in the slide.
He said a group of other nearby skiers were the first to arrive on the scene after Nolet waved for help.
They used avalanche beacons to find Tittemore, and Jennings-Bates said that when his members arrived, Tittemore had been dug out of the snow but had no signs of life.
The RCMP said the men entered the area on snowmobiles and then walked to ski an alpine bowl.
Mayor Janice Morrison called the avalanche deaths a tragedy.
“We are very fortunate to have our own police department where we get to know our officers day in and day out, on and off duty. This loss is going to resonate throughout our community,” she said in the video, sitting next to the chief.
BC> Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth issued a statement on Nolet’s death, saying it is a great loss for Nelson, and that the government will support them through this difficult time.
“I also want to thank first responders and healthcare personnel for their work in responding to this tragic event. Our thoughts remain with the community during this time of mourning.”
The Calgary Police Department also issued a statement saying it was saddened by Nolet’s death. Both Tittemore and Nolet transferred to Nelson from the Calgary department.
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