December 30, 2010 in Idaho

Man dies when Idaho avalanche buries snowmobile

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A 35-year-old man from Farmington, Wash., was killed Wednesday when an avalanche overtook his snowmobile and buried him in nine feet of snow in North Idaho, authorities said.

The body of Shane St. John was found about 11:30 p.m. by rescuers in a mountainous area 20 miles northeast of Calder in Shoshone County on Mastodon Road.

His snowmobiling companion reported that the two were riding along the road when he realized his friend was not near him. He looked back and found the remains of the avalanche, but not his friend, whose track went into the snow slide but not out, according to the Shoshone County Sheriff’s Office.

The friend searched for his friend, who had a locater beacon, with no success. He then alerted authorities.

Sheriff’s officials, law officers from the U.S. Forest Service, members of the St. Joe Valley Search and Rescue and members of the St. Joe Riders took part in the search effort. The safety beacon was going off, authorities said.

St. John is the fourth person claimed by avalanches in Shoshone County since 2004, the sheriff’s office reported. The other three were backcountry skiers.

As much as 4 to 5 feet of fresh snow had fallen in the area. The new snow was on top of hard-packed snow, creating conditions favorable for avalanches.

The sheriff’s office warned that avalanche conditions are currently extreme.


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