You can't legislate common sense." /> You can't legislate common sense." /> Should avalanche survivor be charged? - Winnipeg Free Press

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Should avalanche survivor be charged?

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160_bc_avalanche_080101[1].jpg You can't legislate common sense.But police in British Columbia believe they can do something about a young man who was lucky to survive his brush with an avalanche. His friend perished in the same accident.Precedent-setting charges of criminal negligence are now being considered against the survivor after the men ignored warning signs and entered a restricted area of a popular ski hill in Whistler. (Read full story HERE)Police say they likely triggered the avalanche, which swept them both over a cliff. And officials say they're tired of seeing careless people causing these types of senseless tragedies.They believe the only logical step now is to start arresting the scofflaws.I'm not sure it will be any kind of deterrent. After all, if the risk of a sudden, violent death isn't enough to scare a brainless thrill-seeker away, will the possibility of getting arrested do the trick?But I don't blame officials, who likely have every ground in law to proceed with charges.It's not unusual to see a motorist - perhaps impaired by alcohol or distracted by other factors - charged even if involved in a single-vehicle where nobody is injured.And if drivers are expected to comply with stop signs and traffic lights, why shouldn't skiers and snowboarders do the same with warning signs?There are other factors here too. These men, by deliberatley placing themselves in a dangerous situation, also put the lives of emergency responders at risk.Sure it's their job to to come to the rescue. But that doesn't mean we should give the cause of the accident a free pass.I'm not saying the survivor here should be blamed for his friend's death. That would be going too far, in my opinion. Unless there is evidence the other man was dragged into the area against his will, no such charge (such as criminal negligence causing death) should be laid.But this is about personal responsibility and accountability. If the man's actions were negligent in law, than so be it. Charge him. Set the precedent. And make sure there is consistency from this point forward.He doesn't need to go to jail. But perhaps a criminal conviction on his record - which at least might hinder his future travel to other popular ski destinations outside Canada - might be able to do what those avalanche warning signs clearly can not and put a stop to this kind of risky behaviour.Agree? Disagree? Post your thoughts below.

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About Mike McIntyre

Journalist, national radio show host, author, pundit and cruise director ... Mike McIntyre loves to keep busy.

Mike is the justice reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press, where he has worked since 1997. He produces and hosts the weekly talk radio show Crime and Punishment, which runs on the Corus Radio Network in several Canadian cities.

Born and bred in Winnipeg, Mike graduated from River East Collegiate and completed his journalism studies in the Creative Communications program at Red River College.

He and his wife, Chassity, have two children.

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