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Video captures snowmobiler rescue from avalanche


WINTER SPORTS -- In a dramatic event caught on video, a snowmobiler coming down a hill at Stampede Pass in the Cascades was buried by an avalanche but, luckily for him, friends were nearby and quickly responded to dig him out in time to save his life, according the TV news report (above).

The snowmobiler, John Swanson, said in an TV interview Tuesday he was enjoying a weekend with his friends at Stampede pass, which is just south of Snoqualmie Pass.

He said he was roaring down a hill on his snowmobile Sunday when the "hillside broke free ... I was running down the hill and I could hear Russ yelling ... he was saying, ’Get out of the way!’"

But Swanson said he could not longer steer as "the whole hillside gave way."

He was buried in seconds. It was caught on video by one of his friends who had a camera attached to his helmet.

"It’s like being in concrete," he said of being buried under the snow. "I guess I always figured you could move somewhat, wiggle here, wiggle there and create yourself an air pocket but there was nothing. The snow filled totally in, filled my mask."

Swanson was suffocating.

"Every time I tried to inhale, just inhaling ice balls," he said.

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Outdoors blog

Rich Landers writes and photographs stories and columns for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including Outdoors feature sections on Sunday and Thursday.