THE CANADIAN PRESS
GRIMSBY, Ont. - A close-knit southern Ontario community mourned Saturday in coffee shops and hockey arenas as word spread that two members of the town lost their lives in a skiing accident in British Columbia.
"They're pretty much in shock. I think the reality of it has begun to sink in and now we're just trying to cope with it, trying to understand," said a stunned Ken Watson, manager of the Grimsby Minor Hockey Association, as he described how the deaths of Steve Babb, 47, and Sam Vogl, 17, have rocked the small town.
Babb, his son Colin, 16, and the teen's friend, Vogl took to the slopes Thursday afternoon at Revelstoke Mountain Resort in B.C.'s interior when they decided to go off the groomed path.
They skied to the base of a steep, icy incline, and tried to walk up it, but instead fell, sliding 100 metres before going over a cliff.
RCMP said Colin was the only survivor, but he suffered a broken ankle during the fall.
The frightened teenager managed to make a call from a cellphone he had with him.
"He was calm enough to make the appropriate calls and stay on the line to our communications centre people, but he's also a 16-year-old boy that just went through a devastating, scary event," said RCMP Staff Sgt. Jacquie Olsen, as she described the teen's composure during the harrowing incident.
While family members were in B.C. Saturday dealing with the devastating loss and waiting for Colin to have surgery, Watson said friends back home were talking, as they tried to make sense of what happened.
"People are just sort of congregating," said Watson. The hockey arena in this quiet town near St. Catharines, where Colin Babb and Vogl grew up playing the game, was full of people sharing stories.
Watson said Vogl was a popular leader in his peer group, and worked on the student council at Grimsby District Secondary School.
Facebook tributes poured out for Babb and Vogl, as thousands of members wrote their condolences on the page and others posted photos of a smiling Vogl dressed up in costume.
"He was the kind of friend that never let you down, who was always there for you, and whenever you weren't doing so good he would make you smile," Santoy Mckenly wrote in an email about his friend, Vogl.
Mckenly said Vogl was one of the first to make him feel welcome when he started at the school.
"Sam Vogl was the guy who instantly made friends with me, from then on we became best friends. When I was told about the accident it absolutely broke my heart," Mckenly said. "Just thinking of it makes me cry."
Alannah Morton-Reeve, who also went to school with Vogl, said the teen had a great sense of humour.
"There was one thing that everyone new about him and that is that he was always a happy guy and had the biggest smile. He would light up the faces of everyone around him and he was always so positive," Morton-Reeve wrote in an email, as she remembered how Vogl lifted school spirits by dressing up as Santa Claus one day.
"He just gave everyone a good laugh. He was really one of the funniest guys you could meet."
Watson said Babb was a pilot. He said Babb loved playing hockey in the old-timer league and helped to coach a high school team.
"He was a good man, said Watson. "He was very supportive, very athletic, very involved in things."
RCMP said the coroner has ordered an autopsy and it's unclear when the bodies of Vogl and Babb will be brought home.
THE CANADIAN PRESS