x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Dubai resident dies in Canadian avalanche

Ronald Sheardown, a Canadian who died during an avalanche while on a heli-skiing tour in the Canadian province of British Columbia, is to be buried in Canada at the end of the week.

A Dubai resident who died during an avalanche on Friday during a heli-skiing tour in the Canadian province of British Columbia will be buried in Canada at the end of the week.

Ronald Gregory Sheardown, a Canadian, was caught in an avalanche in the Selkirk Mountain Range, about 32 kilometres south-east of the town of Revelstoke

Mr Sheardown, 45, was one of 11 skiers with a certified ski guide on a tour with Canadian Mountain Holidays.

“He took life head on,” said his sister Michelle Sheardown-Tanzos in a phone interview from her home in the Canadian province of Ontario. “He was just incredible; he took any challenge. He’s travelled all over the world.”

Mr Sheardown, who has skied since he was a small child, was buried in an avalanche triggered by a skier on the Selkirk run at about 1.30pm.

The avalanche was about 75 metres wide and ran for about 250 metres, according to a report by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) .

Three other skiers were partially buried and were able to dig themselves out. Mr Sheardown was completely covered.

Eight guides from Canadian Mountain Holidays, two Selkirk Tangiers Guides and five helicopters went to the rescu

Mr Sheardown, an experienced backcountry skier, was located with his avalanche transceiver, the RCMP reported. He was found unresponsive, attended to at the scene by two physicians and taken to Queen Victoria Hospital in Revelstoke where he was pronounced dead

An investigation is ongoing.

Canadian Mountain Holidays has been operating heli-skiing tours for four decades.

“At this time, our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim,” said the tour company in a statement. “The thousands of guests who ski with us each winter are like our family. It is impossible to put into words the sorrow that we feel and the sorrow that is shared by our guests, their families and all of our staff.”

The avalanche was rated 2.5 on a scale of 5.

Mild temperatures had increased the avalanche risk in the province.

It was the second avalanche fatality in Canada in two days and the third of the season. Last Thursday, an experienced back-country ski patroller died in an avalanche while skiing with three friends. A snowmobiler died in an avalanche in November.

Mr Sheardown, was a father of three boys, ages 10, 12 and 15. He celebrated his 45th birthday last month on a trip to Thailand with his family.

Originally from Stouffville, Ontario, he followed his father to Anchorage, Alaska, when he was a teenager. There, he met his wife, Cindy. They married in 1991.

He studied at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and after completing his MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, he joined Lafarge, the French construction material supplier and manufacturer and was transferred to Cairo in July 2009.

After the 2011 uprisings in Egypt, he transferred to Dubai. His sister said he was recently promoted to chief executive of Middle East operations. Lafarge will issue a statement on Tuesday morning.

“They were very happy in Dubai, they loved it there,” Ms Sheardown-Tanzos said. “He bonds with people so easily and he’s a natural leader.”

Mr Sheardown was best known for being “totally devoted” to his wife and sons.

“He’s the most amazing father, his kids could contact him no matter where he was and what he was doing, and he’d drop anything.”

In hotter climes, Mr Sheardown had a love for golf that he shared with his son Ryan, who began to learn the sport almost since he could walk.

Mr Sheardown will be buried at a family plot in Bolton, Ontario, after a funeral on Friday. His wife and children will fly to Canada tomorrow. His father has flown from Alaska to British Columbia to take care of the body.

The family will likely move back to the United States.
azacharias@thenational.ae