Avalanche injuries claim life of Alberta doctor
Adam Campbell had to keep telling himself he had one job, after watching an avalanche rumble down a slope on Mount Hector in Banff National Park.
It was a slide that would eventually take the life of his partner, Laura Kosakoski, a 35-yearold family doctor in Canmore.
But on Friday, when the powder cloud cleared, Campbell told himself not to fall apart. He had to save the love of his life. “I kept reminding myself I had one task: saving her,” he said in an interview Monday.
Campbell, an ultra-marathoner, was at the top of the slope during a backcountry ski trip when he felt the snow slide under him. He was trying to keep an eye on Kosakoski and a friend, who had both skied down before him.
He found his friend but they weren’t able to find Kosakoski.
“We yelled her name two or three times,” Campbell said.
They realized she must have been buried and quickly got out their avalanche beacons. The closest reading showed she was 3.7 metres under the snow. “That’s incredibly deep,” he said. Avalanche Canada said the slab avalanche was triggered and ran for about 550 metres.
“It was a worst-case scenario,” Campbell said, noting that they were experienced backcountry skiers who had checked the daily avalanche bulletin before heading out.
Campbell sent out an SOS signal to the park’s mountain safety team, and he and his friend started digging through the hard-packed snow until they cleared a hole that was about four metres deep and 10 metres long. “It took about an hour,” he said. When they found her, they were able to clear her face.
“We realized that her airway wasn’t blocked,” said Campbell, “but she looked incredibly blue.”
After another hour or so of digging, they were able to remove her from the hole. There were no signs of physical trauma, but Campbell said she was unresponsive. After two days in hospital, she died Sunday.