For the second time since 2009, a tourist has passed away from exposure to the elements after leaving a bar in Niseko in sub-zero temperatures. On Sunday, March 12 around 2pm, the body of 45-year old David Fitzpatrick from NSW, Australia, was found in the creek right beside Lawsons in Hirafu Village. Over the weekend Niseko had seen -10C with extreme windchills.
David was last seen at Splash Bar in Lower Hirafu Village around 1am on Sunday morning. He was celebrating his group's last night in town, before flying home the next day. On Saturday night, Niseko was in the midst of a storm and visibility was poor due to 40kph winds. The walk from Splash Bar in the middle village to his accomodation at Shizenkan in Izumikyo Two is about 800m. A cat-track leading to a gully is adjacent to the foot-path and it seems David mistakenly walked on the cat-track and down to the bottom of the gully, and was not able to make his way out.
When David failed to arrive for his flight home on Sunday morning, the police were notified, and a search party was organised to look for him. By 12pm dozens of local residents had gathered to join the search. One of the volunteers said that the local support had been swift and comprehensive, with everyone working together to help as they could. The news has affected everyone in town, locals and tourists alike and thoughts are with David’s family and friends during this difficult time.
Powderlife would like to remind visitors and residents alike to take extra care of themselves and their friends when returning home from a night out, especially when the conditions are poor.