Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2003-02-24
Submitted By: Bob Comey BTAC
Place: Smiths Fork in the Salt River Range
State: WY
Country: USA
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 1 snowmobiler caught buried and killed

The following information was obtained by Bob Comey of the Bridger Teton

Avalanche Center during a visit to the site of the Smiths Fork avalanche

fatality. A 41 year old Star Valley man became the seventh avalanche

fatality of the season in Wyoming late in the day on Monday February 24,

2003. He had been snomobiling with four other friends in the Poker

Hollow area of the Smiths Fork drainage of the Salt River Range. The

five riders had been riding in the area when they descended an avalanche

path on the west side of Poker Creek. They descended one at a time.

The victim was the fifth rider to enter the starting zone in the same

area and triggered a soft slab avalanche (SS-AV-3-0) with a crown depth

of two feet. He was engulfed in the slide and swept to the toe where he

was buried beneath four feet of debris face down with his head

downhill. The victim was the only member of the party without an

avalanche transceiver. One person then went to call for help while the

remaining three riders used two probes to search for the victim. His

snowmobile was quickly located near the toe of the slide and the probing

was initially focused in the vicinity of the snowmobile. Lincoln County

Search & Rescue volunteers were reported to have located the victim with

a probe line about 10 feet uphill of the snowmobile several hours after

the event occured.

This avalanche path faced east. The starting zone of the path was at an

elevation of 8,700 feet. The victim was recovered in the toe of the

debris at an elevation of 8,100 feet. The lenght of this slide was

about 2,000 feet. A crown face profile indicates this soft slab

Late yesterday afternoon (5:10 PM) on February 24th a snowmobiler died

in an avalanche in the Poker Flats area of the Smiths Fork drainage in

the Salt River Range of Wyoming. Information is limited at this time.

An avalanche specialist from the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center (BTAC)

is scheduled to visit the incident site tomorrow. The snowmobiler is

believed to have been completely buried without a transciever. The

Lincoln County Search and Rescue group was reported to have located the

victim with a probe line at 7:45 PM. The avalanche hazard in this area

was rated as considerable by the BTAC on Monday.

Bridger Teton Avalanche Center