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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Crews find no trace of avalanche victims

Warning signs mark the boundary of The Canyons ski resort. 
 (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Paul Foy Associated Press

PARK CITY, Utah – Rescue workers spent all day Saturday digging through a massive snow pile but found no traces of five people feared dead in a 300-yard-wide, 500-yard-long avalanche that cascaded down a Utah mountainside a day earlier.

Exactly how many skiers were buried in the Friday afternoon snow slide remained unclear late Saturday afternoon.

Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds said officials were still trying to match eyewitness accounts to a list of skiers who were thought to have been in the area when the avalanche happened.

Sheriff’s Capt. Alan Siddoway said officials knew of five people who were unaccounted for when the search resumed Saturday morning.

As of late Saturday afternoon, as the day’s search was winding down, searchers had confirmed the identity of only one victim, a Montana man in his 20s whose name was not released.

The search had shifted from a rescue to a recovery mission by Friday evening. With such a huge amount of snow to search through, progress was slow.

The search ended for the night Saturday, with crews having gone over most of the avalanche area. Edmunds said that if the search crews go over the debris field twice without finding anything, machines would be brought in to strip away layers of snow to help the volunteers.

The danger of more avalanches remained high in the Wasatch Mountains, which received as much as 8 feet of wet, heavy snow over the last two weeks.

Volunteers are “risking their lives trying to make a recovery,” Edmunds said.

“It’s very frustrating because these kids should not have been in that area. This was an area that was roped off and signed, and they just chose to ignore it,” the sheriff said.