Newfoundlander killed in B.C. avalanche

Andrew
Andrew Robinson
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A.J. Cleary, 34, buried during snowmobile trip

A Newfoundlander living in British Columbia died over the weekend after he was buried in an avalanche.

A.J. Cleary died Saturday after an avalanche buried the 34-year-old in British Columbia. He is the son of Come By Chance Mayor Joan Cleary.

A.J. Cleary, 34, is from Come By Chance. His mother, Joan Cleary, is the community’s mayor.

“It’s a very difficult time for everybody,” said Deputy Mayor Keith Best, who used to babysit Cleary as a child. “Our thoughts, well wishes and prayers certainly go out to the family. It’s terrible, terrible news. The whole community is affected by something like this.”

According to several media reports, Cleary was riding with a group of snowmobilers in the Keefer Lake area on Saturday, approximately 50 kilometres east of Vernon in southern British Columbia. The avalanche left Cleary buried in several metres of snow, forcing other snowmobilers to dig him out. He later died at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

Cleary worked as a nurse and lived in Clarenville before moving to British Columbia. His wife is pregnant with the couple’s first child.

“He was certainly an outgoing young fella,” said Best. “He enjoyed life and outdoor stuff — mountain biking and snowboarding.”

Those interests were acknowledged in messages shared through social media following his death. Vernon bike shop Skyride shared a photo of Cleary Sunday evening on Facebook and reflected on his death.

“We lost a good friend and an even better person yesterday,” the company said. “A.J. Cleary has impacted so many people in our community and we will forever remember his passion for life!”

Silver Star Bike Park in Vernon echoed those words.

“It is with heavy hearts we pass on the news of the death of A.J. Cleary,” it said in a post to its Facebook page. “A friend of the mountain, coach, but most importantly, a well respected member of the community. Our sympathies to family and friends.”

 

arobinson@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TeleAndrew

Geographic location: Chance, Vernon, British Columbia B.C. Clarenville

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  • Nancy Ellis
    March 14, 2014 - 01:51

    My heartfelt condolences to the Cleary family. I hadn't seen AJ in years, for that I am truly sorry. I have such fond memories of MTB races in CbC and the good times during and after. He is and will always be an incredible spirit who lives on in all of us who knew him.

  • Rob Coleman
    March 11, 2014 - 20:18

    Please consider donating to his families cause: https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/8iPO7

  • Diane Richmond
    March 11, 2014 - 06:58

    I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your son, I am sending my sincere condolences. I am sending healing light and much love.

  • lorna
    March 10, 2014 - 17:56

    Sorry to hear of your lost I know I lost. a son 28 years old its not easy and it don't get easier as time gos on just remember the good times you've had I will ppray for his mother and wife but the baby needs you both he left something for you guys to live ( A BABY ) may God be with you all love lorna Robinson xoxo