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Canada Bodies of two Alberta men killed in avalanche recovered by helicopter

Friends and family are mourning the loss of two Alberta men killed in an avalanche in B.C. on the weekend.

RCMP say four men were snowmobiling near the village of McBride, B.C., when the avalanche occurred.

Three of the four were caught in the avalanche, but one was able to dig himself out. The two others were killed.

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The victims have been identified as Tom Hamilton 29, of Ponoka, Alta., and Curtis Fries, 36, of Sherwood Park, Alta.

Claude Fries said his son had been sledding that hill six years in a row and always prioritized safety.

"He never, ever took chances," said Fries. "If there were any warnings out he wouldn't go sledding that weekend. He was always safe."

He said his son always wore an avalanche backpack and avalanche beacon.

"Curtis got caught going down. He never saw it coming, so he never got to activate his safety device," Fries explained.

"He was buried under 12 feet of snow. He was wearing the beacon. They found him right away, where he was. But it took an hour to dig him out. They did CPR on him for an hour and he was crushed. The weight of the snow killed him, probably instantly."

Fries described his son has an extremely hard worker, the owner and operator of Pro Trac Gear. He said Curtis would devote his week to the shop and then take off to enjoy the outdoors on the weekends.

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"He was doing what he loved," said the grieving father. "I'm going to miss Curtis a lot. He was my buddy, he was my friend and he was my son. I loved him so much."

Hamilton was a husband, father and avid snowmobiler who worked at the IGA grocery store in Ponoka. He was a member of the Kinsmen Club of Ponoka, which has expressed heartache over his loss.

"It is with great sadness that we inform you that Tom Hamilton has been found and is no longer with us," said a post on their Facebook page. "With this the family can now have closure and move on to the long process of healing."

Ponoka Mayor Rick Bonnett said Hamilton was a big part of the central Alberta town.

"He was on various organizations and boards. It's a tragic loss for our community," said Bonnett.

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