Utah snowboarder triggered deadly avalanche at Dutch Draw that tragically buried him alive
Utah officials reported how a 45-year-old snowboarder was killed after he triggered an avalanche that buried him under several feet of snow on Sunday.
Using a backcountry gate at the top of the 9990 lift to access Dutch Draw, the mail snowboarder left Canyons Village in Park City before tragedy befell, according to the Utah Avalanche Center. Officials said that around 11 am, the 45-year-old was partway down the slope when he triggered an avalanche that caught him and buried him deep in the steep, rocky Conehead area of the Dutch Draw, Fox News reports.
The snowboarder was subsequently dug out and lifesaving efforts were performed on him, Sheriff Justin Martinez of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office tweeted. Unfortunately, he was pronounced dead shortly after.
We are currently working a backcountry avalanche near the ski resort with one confirmed burial. The single snowboarder has been dug out. Life saving efforts are in progress. This is NOT in the ski resort. More details to follow.— Sheriff Justin (@SummitCountySO) December 15, 2019
Lt. Andrew Wright with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office told FOX13 how "there was one set of tracks in and no tracks out."
According to Wright, the estimated size of the avalanche was between 180-feet wide with about a 600-foot vertical drop that was a "pretty significant slide." The man, whose identity is yet to be revealed, was found by two passersby after being buried for at least 25 to 45 minutes.
“Two individuals came across the avalanche debris field and saw a snowboard sticking out of the snow,” Wright told the outlet. “These individuals dug him out and immediately started doing CPR.”
The man died of his injuries after being taken off the mountain.
The Conehead area of Dutch Draw along the Park City ridgeline has been described by the Utah Avalanche Center as a steep, rocky, avalanche-prone terrain which was the site of an avalanche fatality in February 2012 as well. On the day of the tragic accident, officials noted, the avalanche danger was rated as "considerable" after another side was reported two days earlier.
"A CONSIDERABLE DANGER exists on many mid and upper elevation slopes. The danger is most pronounced on steep northwest to easterly facing terrain at the mid and upper elevations," the group stated. "In this terrain, human triggered slides may step down 3-4' deep and hundreds of feet wide. This terrain is to be avoided."
Meanwhile, the UAC continues to warn that the risk of avalanches this season is particularly high due to recent heavy snowfall on top of a weak base, especially on north-facing slopes.
“Any avalanche you trigger that breaks to the ground is certainly going to be deep, it’s going to be scary," Craig Gordon, an avalanche forecaster with the UAC, told FOX13 on Sunday. "And like we saw today, it, unfortunately, could have a terrible, terrible outcome at the end of the day."
An investigation into the incident to be undertaken by the Utah Avalanche Center is set to begin on Monday. That said, the tragedy on Sunday was the first of this winter season and Utah's fifth avalanche-related fatality of 2019.