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Police investigate backcountry fatalities in mountain parks

A 32-year-old man from Quebec is dead following a climbing accident in Yoho National Park on Aug. 15, and a 61-year-old Medicine Hat man died Aug. 11 when a tree fell on him at a Lake Minnewanka backcountry campground

YOHO NATIONAL PARK – A 32-year-old man is dead following a climbing accident on Mount Hungabee in Yoho National Park on the weekend.

Details on the incident remain scant, but the RCMP said they received a report at 6 p.m. on Sunday (Aug. 15) from Parks Canada that a man died in a climbing accident on the 3,492-metre peak on the boundary of Banff and Yoho national parks near Paradise Valley.

“We have no other information other than to say the B.C. Coroners Service is also investigating,” said Staff Sergeant Janelle Shoihet, senior media relations officer with B.C. RCMP.

“We received the call from Parks Canada and it was them who recovered the body.”

Parks Canada was not immediately able to provide a spokesperson. The man was originally from Quebec, but has been living in Banff more recently.

Earlier in the week, just after midnight on Wednesday (Aug. 11), a 61-year-old Medicine Hat man was killed when a tree fell on him at a Lake Minnewanka backcountry campground known as LM-09 near Aylmer Canyon.

Parks Canada has closed the campground and is currently completing hazardous tree assessments in the area.

“Until the assessments are complete, the campground will remain closed,” said David Dunbar, a spokesperson for Banff National Park, in a statement.

“Our thoughts and sympathies are with the family and all of those involved in this tragic event.”

Meanwhile, in neighbouring Kananaskis Country, a 47-year-old Calgary man was killed Sunday (Aug. 15) and a 40-year-old Calgary man was transported to hospital by STARS with serious injuries after a collision on Highway 40, the RCMP said.

The two men were part of a group of motorcyclists driving through the Kananaskis Country area when about 13 kilometres north of Highway 541 two of the riders lost control and entered the ditch, police said.

Kananaskis Emergency Services, a Kananaskis conservation officer, Turner Valley RCMP, Cochrane RCMP, an Alberta Health Sciences ambulance, an RCMP collision analyst and STARS all responded to the scene.

"With heavy smoke in the area, STARS was unable to land safely at the reported location," police said.

Cochrane RCMP is continuing to investigate.

– With files from Greg Colgan