LOCAL NEWS

Crews recover bodies of two skiers killed in SL County avalanche

May 10, 2024, 9:21 AM | Updated: 2:12 pm

SALT LAKE COUNTY — Recovery efforts for two skiers who were killed when they were caught in an avalanche resumed Friday morning. Both of the skiers were found before 9:15 a.m. and their bodies have been recovered.

The two men were identified as Andrew Cameron, age 23 from Utah, and Austin Mallet, age 32, from Montana.

The name of the man who survived will not be released. He was hoisted to safety by search and rescue personnel and the DPS helicopter and then transported to a local hospital. He was released the same day.

The three men began their journey around 5 a.m. on Thursday at Hidden Valley Park. Approximately five hours into their trek into the backcountry, an avalanche was triggered. The two men who did not survive were buried several feet under the snow. The avalanche was approximately 500 feet wide.

All three men were experienced in backcountry skiing and were well-equipped for this undertaking, including avalanche beacons, Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera, said.

“I want to thank all those who helped us over the last two days. A very special thank you to the volunteer members of the Salt Lake County Search and Rescue Team, who perform these difficult operations because they care about our community,” Rivera said. “Mother nature can be unpredictable. It is uncommon to have avalanche-related deaths this late in the season. For the adventure enthusiasts in our community, be mindful of the weather and snow conditions as you explore canyons. For anyone seeking to enjoy the spring beauty of the canyons pay attention to both snow and runoff. We hope that everyone will enjoy the breathtaking beauty of our outdoor areas safely.”

According to Sgt. Amy Race with the Unified Police Department, there were four teams going up on the DPS helicopter in addition to one ground crew.

Race said they were not sure how long it would take for the ground crew to hike up, but said Thursday it took them about five hours.

The goal was to recover the bodies and bring the whole team down safely.

“The information the surviving skier provided was critical,” Race said.

Crews began to arrive at the base of the mountain at 5:30 a.m. before heading up just before 7 a.m.

“Today’s weather pattern has hit a lull, and is calm compared to yesterday,” said Craig Gordon with the Utah Avalanche Center.

Gordon said the professionals were taking advantage of the weather window to expedite the search. The area has rugged and steep terrain, making the efforts difficult.

Gordon explained that crews performed avalanche mitigation late last night by placing explosives and triggering avalanches. He reminded the public that weather changes fast up in the mountains during the spring.

“Skiers triggered the avalanche while they were going up the mountain, they had not skied down yet,” Gordon said.

Once the bodies were recovered and hoisted down from the mountain, they were turned over to the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner.

“We still have investigations that are still ongoing, but for the most part, this happened as quick as we could possibly do it today, and as safe as we could,” Rivera said.

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Crews recover bodies of two skiers killed in SL County avalanche