Man Buried In Avalanche Says Friends Saved His Life

Jan 12, 2021, 8:25 PM | Updated: Jan 13, 2021, 8:20 am

LOGAN, Utah – A Cache Valley man said he’s lucky to be alive after two of his friends dug him out from an avalanche in a remote area of Logan Canyon Saturday.

There’s not a lot of cell service in the area, which is why the group said it would have taken hours for help to arrive.

Having the right equipment — and everyone trained to use it — is what made the lifesaving difference.

“I popped out of the trees, kind of facing a cliff, and then straight across from me I could see the snow starting to go,” Codie Nelson said. “I saw the other side of the slide, so I thought I could just pin it, get to the other side and beat the top of it.”

Nelson said he tried to outmaneuver the slide on his snow bike.

“I had popped out right into a massive 40-degree chute that was on its way to claim me,” Codie Nelson said. “As soon as I got on the gas, it just picked me up,” he said.

He did what he could and deployed his airbag. But within seconds, he was buried under the snow.

Two friends, Jon Wolford and Jon Erickson were there and saw the slide.

Jon Wolford, left, and Codie Nelson, right. (Codie Nelson)

“He came over the radio … asked where I was,” Nelson said. “I screamed out at that time, still thinking I was just below the surface.”

Wolford and Erickson jumped into action, turning on a beacon and searching for Nelson.

“At that point, I’m like in full panic mode,” Wolford said.

Around the same time, Nelson said he realized why they activated the beacon.

“I came to the realization that it was probably it for me,” he said. “Said some goodbyes … And then this Jonny came over the radio and said, ‘Don’t worry buddy, we’re coming for you.’ And then that’s kind of the last I remember, as far as consciousness goes.”

They were in the remote area of Steep Hollow, which is west of Beaver Mountain.

(Codie Nelson) (Codie Nelson) (Codie Nelson) (Codie Nelson)

With no way to call and no time to wait for help, Wolford said they knew they had to act quickly.

They started below Nelson’s bike, probed around and eventually found him.

“Digging through snow that has been in a slide like that, it’s just like concrete,” Wolford said. “It’s super hard, and it’s work.”

But Wolford said they couldn’t give up.

“The things that you think about, you know, his family and his business and all these things that he has going on, and you have got this window of opportunity to get him to air – (it) is pretty intense,” he said.

Luckily, they were able to dig his head out first. Preparation made all the difference.

“I can’t imagine what it would be like if you were standing there in that circumstance, and had I not had my equipment,” Wolford said.

And thanks to that, Nelson is alive.

“One more minute, I don’t think I’m here,” Nelson said. “One foot deeper, I don’t think I’m here.”

Codie Nelson. (KSL-TV)

Nelson was unconscious at first but eventually rode his bike back down the mountain.

The group pointed out that sometimes those airbag packs give people a false sense of security. As you heard in this case, that was not enough on its own to save Nelson.

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Man Buried In Avalanche Says Friends Saved His Life