Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 1999-04-03
Submitted By: WWAN
Place: Chugach Mtns.; South of Eureka, AK
State: AK
Country: USA
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 2 snowmobilers caught, 1 buried, and killed.

Followup: Body was recovered a few days after the accident. Same weekend and the Turnagain Pass and Cantwell accident. The pair of snowmobilers had been high marking in the area for about an hour.

Monday, April 5, 1999

Loved ones find snowmobiler

After troopers end hunt, man turns up in

4 feet of snow


Daily News reporter

Early Sunday morning, as many families were sending

children off with baskets to hunt for Easter eggs, friends

and relatives of a Wasilla snowmachiner were

organizing a different kind of search.

After four hours of probing the snow with 10- and

15-foot poles, they found what they were looking for.

Odman Schmalzried, 40, who died in an avalanche the

day before, was buried beneath four feet of snow.

They found him near the toe of the slide not far from his

snowmachine, according to friends of the family.

Alaska State Troopers had called off their search for

Schmalzried late Saturday because they feared bad

weather would make searching on Sunday difficult and

dangerous. Troopers also said they don't have the

resources to carry on an extended search in the remote

valley south of Eureka Lodge.

But family members couldn't stay home knowing

Schmalzried was out there. So they organized a search

party that met early Sunday at the lodge, a popular

snowmachine outpost at Mile 120 of the Glenn

Highway. After gathering gear and fixing a broken

snowmachine, searchers started a slow and somber

procession to the area of the slide.

Around 4 p.m., they found Schmalzried's body in an

area that searchers had probed the night before.

"It was bittersweet to find him," said Roger Sanders, a

friend of Schmalzried who spent all Sunday searching.

"I think everyone is still waiting for a miracle. We were

all Odman's friend, and he would have done the same

for us."

Schmalzried was born in Alaska, graduated from

Service High School and lived in Wasilla. The

construction worker had two children - a 7-year-old girl

and a 15-year-old boy - and had remarried last summer.

"He loved snowmachines and to have fun," said a

relative, Brian Donoho. "He was just a really good


Donoho, Sanders and other family members expressed

frustration Sunday that troopers weren't there to help.

"They called this thing way too early," Donoho said.

"We didn't want to wait until spring. He was in four feet

of snow when we found him."

Troopers cited a number of reasons for calling off the

search. Forecasters had predicted bad weather, for one.

They also thought Schmalzried might be buried in as

much as 30 feet of snow.

"I think they were under the impression that the body

was buried a lot deeper than it was," trooper spokesman

Tim DeSpain said.