Family, WB staff hit hard by loss

Autopsy confirms David Christian died from hypothermia

Marie Christian said she knew her son David was likely never to live in his hometown of Dublin, Ireland again. He had fallen in love with Canada and the ski resort lifestyle in Whistler and was planning to be here long term.

"He was always going to live here and he loved it," Marie told The Question on Tuesday (March 27).

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Tragically, David's life and promising career in the ski industry was cut short when he died from hypothermia last week after entering a creek near the third green on the Fairmont Chateau Whistler Golf Course.

While police figure the 27-year-old was heading home sometime in the early hours of March 18 when he entered Horstman Creek, it's unclear why he was on the golf course in the first place, said Staff Sgt. Steve LeClair of the Whistler RCMP.

David had been celebrating St. Patrick's Day with friends at Merlins Bar and Grill on March 17 and was last seen at about 11:30 p.m. He sent a text message at about 2:30 a.m., which was his last confirmed contact with anyone, according to police.

When he failed to show up for work at Whistler Blackcomb (WB) Guest Relations on March 19, friends reported him missing. An extensive search ensued, and David's shoes were located on March 20. Police and search and rescue personnel discovered his body in the creek the next day.

An autopsy was performed and the "cause of death is consistent with hypothermia," LeClair said. It will take up to six weeks for toxicology results to be completed, he added.

David's shoes were found about 500 metres from the creek, and LeClair noted that when people are suffering from hypothermia they might shed clothing.

There are no indications of foul play and "nothing to indicate" that David's death could be related to the recent, similar death of local DJ Mike Grefner, LeClair said. Grefner's body was discovered in the woods near Whistler Secondary School on March 10. He was last seen after a DJ shift at a Village nightclub on Jan. 17.

"It's fair to say that tragic events like this occur from time to time in resort communities," LeClair said. "There's nothing to indicate the two incidents are linked to each other."

Police are still waiting for toxicology results for Grefner, LeClair added.

Marie Christian said her son was "always a good kid" who wasn't a heavy drinker and didn't do drugs.

"He was always a happy-go-lucky chap," she said.

David's managers at WB described him as a model employee who was always eager for the next learning opportunity and keen to take on extra responsibilities, said Joel Chevalier, WB's director of Employee Experience.

"He was a really attentive, polite young man," Chevalier said.

David spent his first winter in Whistler in 2008-'09 after meeting a recruiter for WB in a pub while visiting Toronto. He was just a novice skier at the time, Marie said, but quickly took to the sport and went directly to a ski resort in New Zealand after his first Whistler winter.

Deciding that he wanted to continue working in the ski industry, David enrolled in the Ski Resort Operations and Management program at Selkirk College in Nelson. He returned to Whistler to work this winter after completing the program, and he was due to attend his graduation ceremony next month, Chevalier said.

"He definitely wanted to grow and, I think, probably take over," Chevalier said of David's promising future in the industry.

David's body was flown back to Dublin on Wednesday (March 28) for a wake, funeral and cremation, Marie said.

Many members of his large extended family are already planning to come to Whistler next year to celebrate St. Patrick's Day and David's life, she added.

About 100 local friends and co-workers joined Marie and David's stepfather for a "very touching" celebration of life at the Roundhouse on Whistler Mountain on Monday evening (March 26), Chevalier said.

Marie said the support and generosity from WB and David's friends has been great.

"The outpouring has been unbelievable," she said.

WB brought in a grief counsellor to meet with managers and then hosted a session for all Guest Relations staff last week. Though there was "lots of tears, lots of sadness," David's friends and co-workers have been coping in a "healthy way" and "making decisions that are honouring his life," Chevalier said.

Marie has been working to support and comfort David's friends who are struggling with the loss, and she's invited them to come visit her in Ireland.

"Normal will never be the same again," Marie said. "(But) we have to keep going for him. He'd say, 'Just get on with it and carry on,' so that's what we'll do. We'll carry on."

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