Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2000-02-19
Submitted By: Neil Van Dyke
Place: Wright Peak, in the Adirondack High Peaks
State: NY
Country: USA
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 6 skiers caught, 5 injured, 1 buried and killed

One skier was killed and five others injured when they were caught in an avalanche in the Adirondack High Peaks on Saturday afternoon while skiing in an off-trail area. The avalanche occurred about 1pm on the northeast side of Wright Peak.

Dept. of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers (MRA)reported that five of the skiers were found by 2pm, and searchers spent the next 5 hours looking for 27 yea old Lake Placid resident Toma Jacob Vracarich, finally finding him buried under the snow at about 6pm using a probe line. Three of the five injured skiers were hospitalized at the Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake. One underwent surgery and is listed in guarded condition.

Very high snow levels have created unusual avalanche conditions in the northeast. DEC Ranger Wesley Hurd: "In New York State we never have avalanches. I've been doing this for 26 years and this is the first one I've ever had anything to do with that had any people involved."

In Vermont, state officials told Stowe Mountain Resort and Smuggler's Notch Ski Area to warn backcountry skiers and snowboarders of significant risk of avalanche in Smuggler's otch.

(As a side note, Appalachian Region MRA teams from Maryland, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and New York gathered in Stowe, VT for 2 days of avalanche training on February 12 & 13).