1 dead, 5 missing after snowmobilers fall through ice on Lac Saint-Jean

Guide, French tourists were driving across channel when ice gave way

One man is dead and five others are missing after their snowmobiles went through the ice along Lac Saint-Jean Tuesday night.

Emergency services and the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) were called to a channel at the edge of the lake, between the towns of Saint-Henri-de-Taillon and Alma, at 7:30 p.m.

The snowmobilers were French tourists travelling with a guide, totalling nine people. They were driving across the snow-covered channel when the ice gave way beneath them.


Members of the Sûreté du Québec snowmobile team were combing the area overnight after a group of tourists on snowmobiles fell through the ice. (Radio-Canada)

One person who went through the ice was helped out of the water by two members of the group who had managed to brake and avoid falling in.

The three of them then drove to shore and called emergency services from a store in Saint-Henri-de-Taillon.

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Firefighters from Alma recovered a fourth person, the 42-year-old guide, from the water. He was transported to hospital and died Wednesday morning.

Sûreté du Québec Sgt. Hugues Beaulieu said the group deviated from the marked snowmobile paths — which are inspected daily — and went out onto the lake.

"They must not have known the area well, because it's an area known for having critically thin ice because of the current," Beaulieu said.


The SQ's diving team arrived on the scene Wednesday morning to assist in the search.

According to the provincial coroner's office, there have been 21 snowmobiling deaths in the province since 2010.

Saint-Henri-de-Taillon is about 500 kilometres north of Montreal.

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The Sûreté du Québec diving team was on the scene Wednesday morning to search for a group of tourists on snowmobiles who fell through the ice. (Louis Martineau/Radio-Canada)

This article was originally published by CBC News, with files from Radio-Canada