Authorities Identify Man Killed In Summit County Backcountry Avalanche

Dec 15, 2019, 2:34 PM | Updated: Dec 16, 2019, 2:31 pm

PARK CITY, Utah – A 45-year-old man has died after being fully buried in a backcountry avalanche, according to officials with the Utah Avalanche Center.

Authorities identified him as Matt Tauszik, of Salt Lake City.

Lt. Andrew Wright with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office said they received a 911 call at 10:58 a.m. of a snowboarder buried in an avalanche in the backcountry of Dutch Draw near the Park City Mountain Resort on Sunday.

UAC officials said Tauszik left Canyons Village via the backcountry exit gate at the top of the 9990 lift on Sunday.

“We actually had a witness who witnessed the slide. We don’t know the time frame – she estimates it was between 10 and 11 a.m this morning,” Wright said.

It was unclear if the witness was the same person who called 911.

Wright said other snowboarders in the area came upon Tauszik’s snowboard in the debris field of the avalanche.

“[They] immediately went over and realized it was attached to a person,” he said. “They began digging, from what I understand they dug about three feet below the surface and were able to get this male individual out.”

While traveling in the Conehead area of Dutch Draw, officials said Tauszik triggered and was caught, carried and buried in the avalanche.

“We confirmed that there was a set of tracks in and no tracks out,” Wright said.

Rescuers think Tauszik was buried between 30 and 45 minutes. CPR efforts were carried out by the snowboarders and responding rescue teams for nearly two hours but were unsuccessful.

Tauszik was pronounced dead at the hospital, according to Wright.

“The avalanche itself from what we are hearing is about 180 feet wide and it dropped about 600 feet vertically. It’s a pretty large avalanche, of course with all the snow we have received up in the high elevations, avalanche danger is high,” Wright said

Avalanche danger was rated as considerable Sunday for terrain above 8,000 feet and high on Friday and Saturday.

A weekend storm dropped 18 inches of new snow in the area, and UAC officials said professionals working at ski areas along the ridgeline had triggered numerous old and new snow avalanches in similar terrain.

UAC forecaster Drew Hadesty said this was the first avalanche death in Utah this season.

Officials wanted to remind the public to use the proper equipment and be extra vigilant when venturing into the backcountry for skiing or snowboarding.

UAC and Park City and Canyons resort avalanche officials will investigate the scene on Monday.

Tauszik is survived by his wife Michelle Schmitt and their son.

Schmitt is the Director of Digital Communications for Rep. Ben McAdams, who released the following statement Monday:

“Our hearts are broken today, as we mourn with my Director of Digital Communications Michelle Schmitt and her son for the loss of their husband and father – Matt Tauszik, who was killed in this weekend’s avalanche. Their family loved being outdoors together, particularly on the ski mountain. Michelle has worked for me in both the Salt Lake County Mayor’s Office and now here in my Congressional office and is well known for her professional and talented work with local news media and digital communications. We grieve Matt’s loss with her and will provide as much support as possible during this sad time.”

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Authorities Identify Man Killed In Summit County Backcountry Avalanche