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Wildlife officer dies in snowmobile collision
Second driver in critical condition in Ottawa hospital

Jeanne Gagnon
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, May 26, 2011

IQALUIT - A hunter and wildlife officer died in a snowmobile collision on Frobisher Bay that also left one injured during the long weekend, stated the RCMP in a press release.

NNSL photo/graphic

Wildlife officer Johnny Nowdlak, 47, was pronounced dead at Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit on May 23 as a result of a snowmobile collision. - NNSL file photo

Johnny Nowdlak, 47, was pronounced dead at Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit on May 23 as a result of the collision. He had been a wildlife officer with the territorial Department of the Environment for the last 11 years.

The driver of the second snowmobile, Courtney Dunphy, 20, was medevaced to Ottawa on May 24 and remains in critical condition, stated police.

RCMP Sgt. Jimmy Akavak said one driver was crossing the main trail between Apex and Tundra Valley on the ice at about 8 p.m. less than one kilometre outside Iqaluit on Frobisher Bay while the other was on the main trail coming towards Apex when the collision occurred.

The weather nor the terrain appeared to be a contributing factor in the collision, stated the RCMP.

Police stated it appears both drivers were not wearing helmets at the time of the collision. Akavak said it seems both were travelling at high speeds.

Steve Pinksen, director of policy planning and legislation, described Nowdlak as a "very expert hunter," one of the most active in Iqaluit. He was also always friendly, full of humour, with a smile to offer and chatty with everyone, he added via e-mail. Pinksen stated Nowdlak also had "amazing" land skills.

"If you ever going to be in a bind or in a tight spot, he was the person you wanted with you. He knew the land and water around here like very few do," he stated. "Nunavut can't afford to lose men like him. He will be dearly missed."

The collision is under investigation.

A funeral for Nowdlak will take place in Iqaluit on Thursday.

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