Man buried in avalanche up Pole Canyon; search and rescue responding

Mar 27, 2023, 7:07 PM | Updated: 10:32 pm

UTAH COUNTY, Utah — One person was buried Monday following an avalanche in the area of Lewiston Peak in Pole Canyon.

Sgt. Spencer Cannon with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office said a couple of guys were snowmobiling in that area when one of them got caught and subsequently buried in an avalanche.

“It was apparently quite large,” he said of the avalanche, which he described as breaking at the top of the mountain and falling approximately 1,000 to 1,500 feet.

Cannon said it’s at an elevation of above 8,000 feet in an open bowl area. He explained that they came over from the Tooele County side and into the area.

“Exactly what happened, we don’t know if he was near the top of this and rode down with it, or was further down on the mountain and got caught up in it as it came down.”

A Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter and medical helicopter are currently on scene, as well as team members with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue.

Cannon said the man that was trapped — described as a man in his late 30s — does have a beacon on him.

“They have a good, general location of where he is under the snow, just trying to get to him right now,” Cannon said in a press conference Monday night.

Another person that was with the trapped man called dispatch after the avalanche occurred.

Cannon said he could only recall a few times that they received a call like this in the area.

“It’s not very common and it’s a very popular area for people that own it, but a lot of it is private property, and so that limits, to some extent, how many people can access the area, legally anyway,” he said.

The sergeant described how they initially started with snowmobiles and side-by-sides, but quickly realized the most effective way to get out to the scene was by helicopter.

“When they put team members up on the mountain, they tell them to take gear to plan to stay overnight. Now, we hope that they don’t have to, but whenever you go on the mountain like this, you always plan for what might be the worst case scenario. So, everyone that’s up there is prepared to stay overnight, but right now, the main way of getting up there has been the helicopters… and they’re shuttling people back and forth.”

Cannon said it takes several minutes for the helicopters to get search and rescue members from the landing zone up to the scene. He then described how the searchers are lining up in a row and digging, as well as using the probes, to see if they can find anything underneath the snow.

“We don’t know what’s going to be the thing that’s going to work, but they’re employing all of the options that they have right now in an effort to find this guy,” he said.

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Man buried in avalanche up Pole Canyon; search and rescue responding