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Crews recover body of Utah avalanche forecaster killed in snow slide

Published April 12, 2013 10:06 am

Craig Patterson • He died while checking slope stability in Big Cottonwood Canyon.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Search and rescue workers located and recovered the body of a state avalanche forecaster early Friday morning, about six hours after he had been reported missing in a Big Cottonwood Canyon snow slide.

Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal reported the remains of 34-year-old Craig Patterson had been retrieved from the east face of the Cardiff Fork area just before 1 a.m. Friday. Patterson had been reported missing by his co-workers at the Utah Department of Transportation, about 7:40 p.m. Thursday.

Hoyal said his family reported him overdue to UDOT, and his co-workers located Patterson's car parked near Cardiff Fork — on the south side of the canyon, and contacted UPD.

Crews, aided by a helicopter, spotted Patterson's body just before sunset. Hoyal said he had been out checking snow stability when he got caught in an avalanche.

UDOT spokesman Nile Easton released this statement regarding the incident:

"The UDOT family lost one of our own Thursday when veteran avalanche forecaster Craig Patterson died in a snow slide. Craig had worked with the department since 2006 and was a veteran back country skier. He was out doing the job that he loved to do, making the canyon safer for everyone to enjoy. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones as we continue to gather information about this terrible tragedy."

Evelyn Lees of the Utah Avalanche Center also expressed sorrow, calling Patterson "a friend, avalanche educator and integral part of Utah avalanche professionals trying to unravel the mysteries of snow and avalanches, and working to keep people safe."

A UDOT team was at the avalanche site Friday to investigate the incident. The State Medical Examiner's Office planned an autopsy.

remims@sltrib.com

Twitter: @remims