LOCAL NEWS

Video captures snowmobilers rescue man buried alive in Utah County avalanche

Jan 19, 2024, 10:56 PM | Updated: Jan 20, 2024, 10:27 am

AMERICAN FORK — A group of snowmobilers in American Fork Canyon showed true heroism as they banded together to rescue a man trapped in an avalanche.

Dustin Sweeten, a seasoned snowmobiler with over 50 years of experience, said the group was in the right place at the right time.

Saturday afternoon a group of snowmobilers triggered the avalanche. The snow carried three of the men away, burying one man completely. His group had no idea where he was. Luckily that’s when Dustin and his group stopped to ask if everyone was OK.

Urgency of the situation

As soon as they learned someone was buried the group pulled out their beacons, miraculously they stopped at the spot the man was buried.

Sweeten described the urgency of the situation as rescuers dropped to their knees, working swiftly to free the trapped man who had been buried for over six minutes.

“The snow was packed in his helmet against his mouth and nose and everything we had to physically clear out so he could breathe,” Sweeten told KSL TV in an exclusive interview.

Sweeten, also the owner of a powersports shop in Utah County, unknowingly had a personal connection to the victim. A man whom he has known for more than 35 years.

The emotional weight of the situation heightened as they successfully cleared the densely packed snow around the man’s helmet.

Facing challenges, including the victim’s skin turning purple, the rescuers persevered. Finally, three men were able to pull him out of the snow.

Time nearly ran out

“He said I don’t think I could have lasted another 30 seconds he had already blacked out,” Sweeten said.

After pulling him out they started a fire to warm the man up and then it took them two hours to get him safely off the mountain.

As the group was recalling what had happened Sweeten’s son realized he had inadvertently captured the rescue in a video.

Reflecting on the experience, Sweeten underscored the importance of preparedness in unpredictable outdoor environments.

Sweeten believes this serves as a powerful reminder of the unpredictable nature of the outdoors and the vital role preparedness plays in ensuring safety for oneself and others.

KSL 5 TV Live

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Video captures snowmobilers rescue man buried alive in Utah County avalanche