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Woman resuscitated after being buried in avalanche

Published January 12, 2013 11:30 pm

Millcreek Canyon • Skiing companion found her thanks to beacon, dug her out of the snow.
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A backcountry skier dug his companion out of the snow and resuscitated her after an avalanche Saturday in Millcreek Canyon.

The slide occurred about 5 p.m. in the West Porter Fork area and was triggered by the 43-year-old woman and her male companion, Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal said.

The woman, whose name was not released, was caught in the slide and buried.

An experienced backcountry skier, the woman was wearing an avalanche beacon, and her skiing partner was able to dig her out of the snow, Hoyal said. The woman was not breathing, but her partner administered CPR and resuscitated her before calling 911.

"He most likely saved her life," Hoyal said. Hoyal could not detail the size or depth of the slide, nor did he know how far down the woman was buried.

With help from the Utah Highway Patrol helicopter crew, a rescue team flew the woman and her companion out of the canyon about 8 p.m., Hoyal said.

The woman, whose name was not disclosed, suffered a head injury and was taken to University Hospital, where she was listed in serious condition Saturday night, he said. The male skier was not injured.

The Utah Avalanche Center said the slide happened at 9,500 feet. It was 2 feet deep, 300 feet wide and traveled 800 vertical feet. The Avalanche Center reported three other skier-triggered slides in Salt Lake County on Saturday.

On Saturday, Utah's Avalanche Center had listed the avalanche risk for the Wasatch mountains as "considerable" following a two-day snow storm that dumped a foot or more of fresh powder on backcountry locations.

"The big message here is be prepared when you go into the backcountry," Hoyal said. "It just comes down to being prepared and knowing what to do."

jdobner@sltrib.com