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Crews face challenges getting to scene where two skiers died in late-season avalanche



Salt Lake City, Utah – At Lone Peak in Little Cottonwood Canyon, a late-season avalanche claimed the lives of two men, ages 23 and 32.

After the incident on Thursday, Unified Police withheld the identity of the parties involved.

The first report came in at around 10 a.m., and although UPD was able to locate the casualties, the difficult and isolated terrain made it extremely difficult for rescuers to get to them. Therefore, on Friday, a new evaluation of ongoing recovery activities would be conducted.

Although not personally participating in the search on Thursday, Sgt. Spencer Cannon of the Utah County Sheriff’s Office discussed the risks. He has expertise with such operations.

“It doesn’t make any sense sometimes to put rescuers at risk in conditions that may have been what led to the circumstance that they’re in in the first place,” Cannon said.

UPD requested assistance from other organizations, but they had trouble entering the area securely throughout the day.

“They have to consider those very same conditions as somebody who’s going out there recreationally,” Cannon said.

Complications were increased by the backcountry’s unexpected nature in the spring. After digging himself out, one of the hikers was evacuated to safety.

“They’re helpers, they’re savers, they’re fixers; they go into situations and their goal is to make the situation better at the end,” Cannon said about the search teams.

The decision to proceed with a rescue operation or not is eventually made by incident leadership, which did not happen on Thursday, leaving two families inconsolable.

“You try to do it as delicately as you can, but if you think about it, there’s no easy way to tell someone that their loved one is gone,” Cannon said.

Resources were made available to search team members who were impacted by Thursday’s events to assist them in adjusting to the aftermath.


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