Backcountry skier killed in avalanche in Emery County

(Courtesy Utah Avalanche Center) An overview of the Friday, Jan. 18, 2019, avalanche in north of Electric Lake in Emery County. A backcountry skier, Michael Besendorfer, was killed in the avalanche.

A backcountry skier was buried in snow and found dead Saturday after an avalanche Friday in Emery County, where officials had warned of “considerable” avalanche danger.

Michael Besendorfer, 26, was skiing with a friend north of Electric Lake in the Skyline region of the state when he triggered an avalanche Friday, according to the Emery County Sheriff’s Department.

The friend, who descended the slope before Besendorfer, started searching when Besendorfer didn’t make it down the mountain. He called for help shortly afterward when he couldn’t find him. Search crews made it to the mountain by 8 p.m. and searched until midnight.

Lucy, the search dog, was brought in with crews Saturday to look for Bensedorfer, and she found him around noon.

(Courtesy Utah Avalanche Center) A backpack sits in the spot where officials found the body of Michael Besendorfer, who was killed in the avalanche Friday, Jan. 18, 2019, north of Electric Lake in Emery County.

According to the Utah Avalanche Center, Besendorfer, of Nephi, is the first person killed in an avalanche in the state since 2016.

The Avalanche Center had warned of high avalanche danger for much of the state because of heavy snow from the weekend’s winter storm. Officials predicted considerable avalanche danger — one step below high danger — Friday in the area where Besendorfer and his friend were skiing.

The avalanche was 500 feet wide and 3 feet deep. Bensendorfer’s body was found about 500 feet below the crown of the slope, according to the avalanche center. No other people were injured.