45-Year-Old SLC Man Identified As Backcountry Avalanche Victim

Dec 16, 2019, 6:22 PM | Updated: 10:09 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A 45-year-old snowboarder who died in a backcountry avalanche has been identified as Matt Tauszik of Salt Lake City.

Tauszik died in an avalanche that he triggered on his snowboard shortly before 11 a.m. Sunday and officials with the Utah Avalanche Center are urging backcountry visitors to be cautious after the season’s first avalanche fatality.

“To go down that specific area, you have to have a certain level of skill,” said Lieutenant Andrew Wright with the Summit County Sheriffs Office.

Tauszik dropped into an area known as Dutch Draw, accessed through a backcountry gate at the top of Park City Mountain Resort’s 9990′ lift. The avalanche was three feet deep and 100 feet wide.

Skiers in that area saw the avalanche debris, and then Tauszik’s snowboard, and dug him out. They tried to save his life with CPR, but he died later at the hospital.

“The chances of triggering an avalanche after heavy snowfall like we’ve had is very high,” Wright said. “That’s why we always encourage people you have to follow the warnings from the Utah Avalanche Center.”

Tauszik was at the resort with his wife Michelle Schmitt, who is a communications worker in the office of Congressman Ben McAdams, and their son before he left to go on that run.

“At the initial part of the ridge, it’s not very steep. Sort of benign-looking,” said Mark Staples, director of the U.S. Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center. He and one of his avalanche forecasters went up to investigate the layers of snow this afternoon.

“It doesn’t matter where you are, it’s all backcountry,” Staples said. “The snowpack is uncontrolled. There’s no work done on it by any ski patrol, and it doesn’t matter if you’re one foot from the rope line or a mile from the ski resort it’s all the same.”

Staples urged everyone heading into the backcountry to take a partner, the proper safety gear and knowledge of the conditions of the day.

The last two avalanche deaths in Dutch Draw were in February 2012 and 2005. All skiers and snowboarders approaching that gate are warned.

“There is a lot of signage up there warning people of the extreme danger associated going beyond that point, leaving the resort and going into the backcountry,” Wright said.

Congressman Ben McAdams’ office said it was grieving the loss and McAdams said in a statement on Monday that the family loved being outdoors together, particularly on the ski mountain.

“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.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

The Utah Bionic Leg it uses motors, processors, and advanced artificial intelligence to give ampute...
Tamara Vaifanua

The U unveils world’s most advanced bionic leg

A major announcement from the University of Utah Wednesday afternoon that could help people who have lost a leg walk freely again.
15 hours ago
Intersection where motorcyclist and Jeep crashed....
Brooke Williams

Biker in extremely critical condition after being hit by Jeep in Millcreek

A biker is in extremely critical condition after colliding with a Jeep this morning.
15 hours ago
Salt Lake City police responding to a shooting at the Downtown West apartment complex. (KSL TV)...
Michael Houck

Man charged with murder, woman shot in her SLC apartment

A 20-year-old man is facing felony charges after police found him with his dead girlfriend in late September. 
15 hours ago
(KSL TV)...
Casey Scott, KSL TV

Surprising drivers with free gas cards in Weber Co. with Casey Scott

Casey Scott was out earlier Wednesday helping ease the pain at the pump with free gas cards -- if anyone will take them.
15 hours ago
Andrew Adams

Relatives scramble to relocate Florida woman to Utah after she lost everything to Ian

Family members were scrambling Tuesday to get a relative in Florida safely to Utah after she lost everything to Hurricane Ian.
15 hours ago
Get Gephardt...
Matt Gephardt & Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Get Gephardt helps a Clearfield man get his solar panels hooked up after months of delay

Imagine having solar panels installed on your roof but then being unable to get the company to actually hook them up. It happened to Clearfield man and when the company stopped responding, he decided it was time to Get Gephardt.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
45-Year-Old SLC Man Identified As Backcountry Avalanche Victim