Thursday, January 24, 2008

Wyoming Avalanche Kills a Friend

Avalanche danger in western Wyoming; avalanche victims identified
(from Wyoming Tribune- Eagle;

CHEYENNE (AP) -- The danger of more avalanches in western Wyoming persisted Monday following the deaths of three snowmobilers and the injuring of a skier in two avalanches in the region over the weekend.The general avalanche danger was "considerable," according to the Bridger-Teton National Forest Avalanche Center. That means dangerous unstable slabs can exist on steep terrain, human-triggered avalanches are probable and natural avalanches are possible.Sunshine and warming temperatures will increase the likelihood of triggering slides, the avalanche center reported Monday.Three Afton-area men died in a large avalanche near Cottonwood Lake in Lincoln County on Saturday, County Coroner Michael Richins said."They were well-known family men; all leave widows and children," he said.He identified the victims as: Scott L. Bennett, Alan R. Jensen and Kim Steed.Citing reports from the search and rescue team, Richins said the men were snowmobiling late Saturday morning or early afternoon in a branch canyon by Cottonwood Lake, which is about eight miles southeast of Afton.They were buried by a large avalanche, he said. All three were dead by the time search and rescue teams reached them, according to the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office.The slide was about 700 feet long, 300 feet wide and 50 feet deep that uprooted trees, Richins said.Bennett, Jensen and Steed wore homing beacons enabling the search and rescue team to find them, but not save them, he said."The sheer volume of that slide, it was too much," Richins said.On Sunday, a slide near Cache Peak in the Gros Ventre Wildnerness in neighboring Teton County caught two skiers as they were skinning up a steep, treed slope, injuring one. The injured skier suffered a broken leg, authorities said.Avalanches have killed at least 21 people across the West since Nov. 12. Two skiers were killed in Montana over the weekend, and three people thought caught in avalanches are still missing in Colorado. The national annual average for avalanche deaths is about 25. Thirty-five people were killed nationwide in avalanches in the 2001-2002 season, the most on record, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
Reader Comments

Heather Gerquest wrote on Jan 23, 2008 10:16 PM:
" The news of Scott Bennett's death in the avalanche that killed him and his two snowmobiling partners over a week ago is still unbelievable to me and my husband. When Scott was doing his residency out here in the Northeast (Maine) we met them and befriended them. They were the epitome of what I would call a "perfect" family, just all around great people. I did not know Scott's two friends that lost their lives that day with him, but knowing Scott, They too were probably good people and their families will indeed miss them very much. The world needs more people like Scott. This is a major loss. Our hearts go out to Scott's wife and four young children at this difficult time. We want them to know that we love them dearly and think of them often. You are indeed in our prayers. "