Utah man caught in avalanche rescued by friend

Mar 23, 2022, 2:29 PM | Updated: Jun 18, 2022, 8:54 pm

DAVIS COUNTY, Utah — A snowmobiler caught in an avalanche over the weekend said he was grateful his friends were properly equipped and trained and were able to save his life.

Justin Boatright was in the Franklin Basin area outside of Logan Sunday when he saw the slope give way.

“I looked across and started seeing stuff starting to slough and immediately I didn’t know what to do,” Boatright told KSL TV Tuesday. “I started to punch it to try to face uphill and as I was going uphill, the sled started coming over backward on top of me.”

Boatright said he tried to reach for his airbag and couldn’t find it.

“Next thing I know, I was completely under the snow and it was dark gray,” Boatright said. “All I could do is feel myself sliding down face-first downhill and to myself I was thinking, ‘am I going to live or am I going to die?’”

He described an “eerie, eerie” sound stuck beneath the snow as he tried to doggie paddle out of the slide.

When he came to a stop, he saw a lighter snow on top of him. He punched through and saw daylight.

“I just started screaming at the top of my lungs — I mean just screaming — ‘help, help, help,’” he recalled. “I could hear nothing, and then all of a sudden I could hear his voice.“

The voice was that of his friend, Curtis Slack, who might have also been caught in the avalanche had he not gone another way last second.

As he began to search for Boatright, he spotted an arm moving in the snow.

“I just hit the gas and went right to him,” Slack said. “My first thought was I need to get his airway clear to make sure he can breathe.”

Boatright said Slack started digging down toward his face.

“I said, ‘Hey, you’ve got to get me out — I can’t breathe,’” Boatright explained. “At that time he got around my face and after that, I started wiggling really hard and he pulled me out.”

Slack said he was just grateful to have been able to save his friend.

Both said they had been to that area numerous times and had never seen trouble in the spot where they were riding.

“On our way up the mountain that day, my wife and I read the avalanche report and knew what the conditions were,” Slack said. “Luckily here in Utah we have a great avalanche center and we have great forecasters that are out on the snow all the time and are giving us good, valuable information that us as backcountry users can go out and be as safe as possible and unfortunately it was a scary situation for us that day, but everything turned out good for us.”

Boatright and Slack said they were sharing their story not to deter people from the backcountry — but to urge them to head into it prepared with the proper gear, training and knowledge of the terrain and avalanche forecast.

“I could have been with somebody else I just joined the party with that didn’t know nothing and I could have been dead,” Boatright said. “I’m just grateful I had a friend like Curtis who got to me quicker than quick to get me out.”

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Utah man caught in avalanche rescued by friend