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Lac St Jean Nightmare!

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Snowmobile hike in Lac-Saint-Jean turns into a nightmare for a group of tourists
LAURA LÉVESQUE
The Daily
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A snowmobile hike in Lac-Saint-Jean turned into a nightmare for a group of nine tourists. One or more snowmobilers fell into the water on Tuesday evening. At the time of this writing, a victim had been recovered from the waters in critical condition. The Sûreté du Québec was however unable to confirm his death. Five other snowmobilers were missing shortly before 11 p.m.
“The event started around 7:30 p.m. when a snowmobile fell into the water near the Grande Décharge river, near Saint-Henri-de-Taillon. He was able to get out of the water himself and contacted the emergency services. At that time he had lost sight of the rest of the group. Three other people from the group found themselves in a business in the sector. Firefighters and police later recovered a critical water man. He was taken to hospital. Rescuers are still looking for five other snowmobilers, ”said Marie-Michelle Moore of the SQ.

The nine tourists were accompanied by a guide. The firefighters used nautical equipment for the searches and the police criss-crossed the area by snowmobile.

Aid from the military was requested late in the evening. A helicopter was expected before midnight. 

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We rode the area a week ago.  The trail does go on and off the very edge of the ice and was marked well at the time.  We did comment no tracks were venturing off the marked trail and onto the ice.  At night, wind blowing you could get disoriented.

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The guide was pulled out and taken to the hospital where he died

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Jack

Is that just south of the Gas Station on the Hill? Petro Canada I think, we stopped there over new years with you?

GutZ

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10 minutes ago, MrGutz said:

Jack

Is that just south of the Gas Station on the Hill? Petro Canada I think, we stopped there over new years with you?

GutZ

That is my understanding.  The gas station is on top of the hill in St Henri.  Trail 93 drops down and skirts the edge of the lake heading back towards Alma, well marked.  93 gets back on land and there are usually a few tracks that continue on the lake but near the shore.  I always figured locals used it going home a little further on.

It sounds like the guide may have continued on, maybe to take a shortcut to Alma or missed the get off point at night?  The map Mark posted shows the N-FED trail going out on the lake and then dead ends.  This cuts across where the lake is draining into the Grande-Decharge and then into the Saguenay River.

A very sad situation for whatever reason.

Jack & Sandi

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As of last night they have located 2 sleds on bottom, they will attempt to remove them this morning. Still missing 5 riders and 5 sleds. 

Guide was from Montreal area and been a guide for 10 years. Still no one knows why they left marked trail. Where they ended up is for sure an area no one rides ever, never frozen enough due to current.

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A guide with 20 years of experience
French tourists weren't getting started with snowmobiles
    7
    
 OTHER
Guide Benoit Lespérance lost his life.  His body was recovered on Tuesday.
PHOTO FACEBOOK
The guide Benoit Lespérance lost his life. His body was recovered on Tuesday.
ANTOINE LACROIX 
Thursday, January 23, 2020 12:00 AM
UPDATE Thursday, January 23, 2020 12:00 AM
 The Montreal snowmobile guide who tragically perished in the Lac Saint-Jean accident on Tuesday evening was far from being his first expedition. He had about 20 years of experience. 

 “He's been a snowmobile guide for a long time, he's an experienced guy. It didn't seem like a daredevil guy either. He was a very appreciated person, "said Stéphane René Tremblay, a friend who has known Benoit Lespérance for 15 years, completely flabbergasted. 


 Frequent traveler, the latter was not often in Montreal. However, he still had a pied-à-terre in the metropolis, his daughter's apartment. 

 "It had been a year since I last saw him and I saw him again last week. I can't believe this is happening, it's sad, ”added Mr. Tremblay, who also owns the apartment. 

 The 42-year-old guide, who mentioned on Facebook having 20 years of experience, accompanied the group of eight French snowmobilers when the tragedy occurred in an unmarked area of Saint-Henri-de-Taillon. 

 "I have a friend who died" 

 “Personally, I have a friend who is [presumed] deceased,” testifies Francis Pierrel, an organizer of snowmobile trips to Quebec, in shock when speaking of one of the French victims. “He has been coming to snowmobile with me or others since 1995. He was passionate about Quebec and snowmobiling. " 

 Departing from Saint-Michel-des-Saints on Monday morning, the troop stayed in the evening at Relais 22 Milles, not far from La Tuque, before finally hitting the road the next day towards the Lac-Saint-Jean region. 


 Among the possible hypotheses, Mr. Pierrel does not rule out that the group dispersed on the path and that the tourists unfortunately found themselves in a precarious situation. "The guide may have seen them and gone to meet them to warn them of the danger," said Pierrel. 


 Experienced tourists 

 The company responsible for the trip, Aventures 3000, was stingy with comments all day. The owner of the company, Patrick Denis, refused to answer questions, but a shareholder of the company, Jean-Pierre Turci, however reacted to the "unfortunate event". 

 He specified in particular that the tourists, like the guide, had experience with such devices. 

 “We have five clients who died [missing] and a guide. Customers who came regularly, ”said Turci. Repeating several times do not want to "short-circuit" the survey. He added that he was "saddened to lose knowledge". 

 It was impossible to know the identities of the French tourists involved. 

 According to the France 3 channel, the three survivors are from Haut-Rhin, in the east of the country. The five missing tourists, aged 24 to 58, are from the Alsace or Vosges region. 

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On the news last night was a guy responsible for the certification training of the guides.

this guide received his certification 10 years ago. 

Anyway does not matter

unfortunately we will probably never know exactly what happened here

bottom line very sad day for snowmobiling in Quebec and especially the families who have lost loved ones

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1 hour ago, iceman said:

On the news last night was a guy responsible for the certification training of the guides.

this guide received his certification 10 years ago. 

Anyway does not matter

unfortunately we will probably never know exactly what happened here

bottom line very sad day for snowmobiling in Quebec and especially the families who have lost loved ones

Yes, at this point nothing matters, nobody gets up in the morning wanting or expecting to be part of anything like this.And then the helicopter crashes!! You could not make this story up, makes you silent and speechless.This effects our whole community that goes out each day to enjoy the beauty of this sport, never thinking that anything like this could possibly lie ahead.

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They are going to make some changes to somethings apparently we need to wait and see what is announced

I think for starters you will see regulation saying minimum of 2 guides for each group

one in front one in back 


MINISTER PROMISES CHANGES

Laforest met officials at the SQ command post late on Wednesday, promising legal changes that could prevent this type of incident. 

A press conference had already been planned for Thursday to announce changes to the law concerning adventure sports, which includes snow mobiling, the minister said.

"We are all just overwhelmed," she said. "This is the region for snowmobiling. I just couldn't believe there was a tragedy of this magnitude."

Laforest states it is still too early to speculate about how the group came to be where they were. She says the Quebec government is working on a new framework to regulate the province's tourist operators, which will be announced in the coming days.

Edited by iceman

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I think something strange happened with this group to cause such a tragedy.  Either they got separated or there was something with the weather happened.  

  I was born and brought up on the St Lawrence river and while crossing on the ice a few times a storm has made things very uncomfortable.  Only my opinion.  So sorry for these people. 

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One of the francophone forums has a lot of detailed discussion of this tragedy by people who are either from the area, or are involved. Once again, "get-home-itis" played a significant role. They departed later than scheduled that morning, the trajectory was too long (350km) for tourists, and they arrived late, north of Alma, with still an hour to go if they took the marked trail through town versus 15 or 20 minutes across the unmarked lake. The guide made the wrong choice, and led most of his party, including himself, to their deaths. Why people continue to ride on unfamiliar or unverified ice confounds me too. However, in this case, most of the victims were blameless.

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1 hour ago, Gullyrider said:

Once again, "get-home-itis" played a significant role. They departed later than scheduled that morning, the trajectory was too long (350km) for tourists,

With all due respect I believe this is certainly a plausible explanation.Just I find it very hard to imagine this guide taking this risk especially at night in the dark. But like I said earlier we might never know. Perhaps the 3 survivors may shed more light on what happened if they even know. 

I also have a theory.

These groups of tourists are extremely hard to control. Trust me I know from experience. No matter what you explain to them about safety and staying to the right, staying in line, etc. etc. they do what they want. I believe it is also likely that once on that section of lake or perhaps even before that, some of the group (the five missing I believe) were EITHER in front of the guide or Overtook the guide riding outside the sticks. The guide then realizing they were not getting off the lake where they were supposed to, he tried in vain to catch them and stop them but ended up in water with them. The last 3 in line were slower (so guide had been staying with them) again just my theory. The 3 followed taillights which led to the open water. One was going a bit too fast to stop before he ended up in water too. The other two saw the first go in and were able to stop in time and then pull him out(the lone survivor from the water)

The only thing for sure for sure is it was an Accident. Tragic.

 

Edited by iceman

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