ST-HENRI-DE-TAILLON, Que. — Quebec provincial police have suspended search operations for the two remaining French snowmobilers who disappeared along with four other members of their tour group last month around Lac Saint-Jean, in the province’s Saguenay region.
The operation has been suspended until further notice, provincial police said Thursday night. But they added that officers weren’t ruling out resuming searches at a later date.
Police searched for 16 consecutive days following the Jan. 21 incident involving a group of eight French tourists and their Montreal-based guide.
For reasons that still remain unclear, the group of nine snowmobilers left the safety of the marked trail through the woods and ventured towards the icy expanse of Lac-Saint-Jean, where the ice gave way somewhere between St-Henri-de-Taillon and Alma.
Police have tracked down the seven missing snowmobiles and four of the six men. Three French nationals survived and have since returned home.
Police spokesman Hugues Beaulieu said Thursday that while active searches are suspended, police haven’t abandoned hope of finding the last two missing French nationals.
Unstable weather conditions in the region north of Quebec City over the past two weeks have made search operations difficult.
The Quebec coroner’s office has identified the victims as Julien Benoit, 34, Yan Thierry, 24, Gilles Claude, 58 — all of France — and their Montreal guide, 42-year-old Benoit L’Esperance of Montreal.
Two other men who remain unaccounted for are Jean-Rene Dumoulin, 24, and Arnaud Antoine, 25.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 7, 2020.
The Canadian Press