WHISTLER, British Columbia - An inflatable backpack saved a snowboarder from disaster during an avalanche Wednesday in western Canada.
Tom Oye posted a terrifying helmet-cam video of his brush with death in the Brandywine area of Whistler, British Columbia, on his Facebook page, where it has more than 5.6 million views and more than 45,000 shares.
Oye had received the backpack as a gift last month from friends. On his Facebook page, accompanied by a video, the Australian native said the idea behind the avalanche airbag backpack was "to make you the biggest object and tumble you to the top in a big slide, provide a little trauma protection while you’re tumbling, and then create an air pocket if you do get buried to keep you alive a little longer until you’re rescued."
"They're a serious piece of safety gear and have a price tag to match so I'm so humbled by all you who made it happen."
David Cote, a local snowmobile guide, was just around the corner from the avalanche and witnessed the tail end of the slide around 10 a.m. PT, according to CBCNews.
"You could just see him sort of on the surface," he told CBC. "It's hard to say exactly if he would've been buried without it, but I think he's quite lucky that he had the avalanche airbag on."
Cote, who has more than a decade of experience on the mountain, told CBC he was testing the area for avalanche risk about 10 minutes before the slide. He said it was a risky day to be on the mountain.
"Some of the results we were seeing from our tests were quite scary ... it was very reactive," he told CBC.
To all my awesome homies who pitched in to get me a surprise early birthday present while I was home, I'm sure you had absolutely no idea what the hell it was you were buying me, so here it is. It's an avalanche airbag backpack, and the idea is to make you the biggest object and tumble you to the top in a big slide, provide a little trauma protection while your tumbling, and then create an air pocket if you do get buried to keep you alive a little longer until your rescued, they're a serious piece of safety gear and have a price tag to match so I'm so humbled by all you who made it happen. An extra special thanks to Stuart Roydhouse aswell for making it happen. You can all now call me safety Steve.🤘Posted by Tom Oye on Saturday, December 17, 2016