Wyatt Coiteux: Washington man, 21, killed after being trapped in avalanche while snowmobiling in Montana
COOKE CITY, MONTANA: A young man from Washington died after being trapped under a massive avalanche in Cooke City, Montana. According to the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center, Wyatt Coiteux, 21, was snowmobiling uphill with his 17-year-old brother on nearby slopes when the avalanche occurred. Coiteux, who had been climbing a slope when the avalanche occurred, was transported 600 feet uphill before being buried beneath five feet of snow.
A group of snowmobilers started looking for him after spotting a snowmobile buried in the avalanche. One of the riders from the group proceeded to Cooke City to call for help. A probe line was used to find the buried rider, who was buried beneath five feet of snow, roughly an hour later. The riders attempted CPR and employed an automated external defibrillator, but all went in vain. "We are devastated by the passing of our beloved son Wyatt Coiteux while snowmobiling yesterday. He went out on cloud 9 doing what he loved," his parents Sean and Tracy Coiteux wrote on Facebook.
According to local officials, the brothers were riding on adjacent slopes, and Coiteux was seen wearing an airbag pack when the avalanche occurred. Uncertainty surrounds whether Coiteux failed to release the airbag or whether it could not deploy it in time due to a malfunction. The two siblings from Washington were equipped with probes and shovels as well, but they lacked avalanche beacons, a radio-emitting electrical gadget used to find buried people following an avalanche. “Our deepest condolences go out to the family, friends, and those involved,” said the GNFAC in a statement
The Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center shared a video from the south side of Crown Butte where the avalanche occurred. "It occurred on a southeast-facing slope at 9,800 feet elevation. At the crown the avalanche was 1.5-2 feet deep on average, and up to 4 feet at the deepest," the group captioned their video.
"It [the avalanche] broke 500 feet wide and ran 600 vertical feet. It was a hard slab avalanche that broke on weak, sugary snow, and was large enough to break trees or destroy a car," they further said.
In a different post, the organization urged anybody thinking about hitting the slopes to exercise caution and stay away from difficult or risky regions. "This fatality is the clearest possible indicator that the snowpack remains capable of producing large and dangerous avalanches," they said.
The group also shared a photo from the bottom of Crown Butte, showing off the slab of snow that had broken off and crushed the young man. The 21-year-old had expertise on the slopes and was an ardent snowmobile rider, according to his open social media accounts.
In an Instagram post posted on Sunday, Coiteux's girlfriend revealed that her boyfriend had died in the Montana avalanche. She also shared several pictures and a screenshot of a local news report about the catastrophe. "I am truly heartbroken my handsome is no longer with me. He was an amazing man my love, my everything. We were supposed to get married, have children and grow old together but he was taken away to early, but he was doing what he loved, My heart is not full without you I will forever and always miss you and have a piece of me gone. You were my soulmate and I knew it from 4th grade. I knew I was going to date you. I don’t know how to function without you my love, my handsome. I love you so much, you will never be forgotten," she wrote in the post.