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Date: 2004-01-02
Submitted By: WWAN
Place: Soldier Mountain; near Soldier Mountain Ski Resort
State: ID
Country: USA
Fatalities: 2
Summary: House struck by an avalanche, 2 people buried and killed

****MEDIA REPORTS****

2 die when avalanche destroys Soldier Mt. cabin

By The Associated Press An avalanche that rushed down central Idaho?s Soldier Mountain

struck a cabin early Friday, killing the dean of the University of Washington?s graduate

school and her husband. Marsha Landolt, 55, and Robert A. Busch, 58, were killed in the

avalanche, which occurred about 1:30 a.m., the Camas County Sheriff?s Office reported.

Five other family members survived. Two dug themselves out and went for help; the other

three were rescued. Emergency workers evacuated all the cabins in the region until the

avalanche danger passes, officials said. The ski resort was also closed for the day, partly

because of the risk of additional avalanches and partly because resort workers needed

time to groom the trails with the freshly fallen snow. Landolt had been dean and a vice

provost of the university since 1996, university spokesman Bob Roseth said. She was

previously director of the university?s School of Fisheries and has authored more than 70

scientific papers on fish pathology. The cabin was about one mile south of the Soldier

Mountain ski area, at the base of a gully that cuts through a high ridge on Soldier Mountain,

said Kyle Davenport, an administrative assistant at Soldier Mountain Ski Resort who

assisted in the rescue effort. Soldier Mountain is in the Sawtooth National Forest about 80

east of Boise. A heavy slab of snow along the ridge broke loose, triggering the avalanche,

Davenport said. The cabin occupied by Landolt and Busch was slammed with the bulk of

the snow. ?From what the locals on search and rescue said, it was the biggest avalanche

they?ve seen in a long time,? Davenport said. ?It looks like somebody just fired the snow

through the windows on that whole side of the building. The room where the grandparents

were found was filled nearly to the ceiling with snow and the bed was pushed clear

against the far wall.? Landolt and Busch?s son and daughter-in-law were sleeping in the

loft with their three small children, Davenport said. When they were awakened by the

avalanche, the son immediately tried to dig out his parents. After about an hour and a half

of digging, Davenport said, the son made his way out of the cabin and went to a

neighbor?s home to call the Search and Rescue team. ?We got there at about 3:40 a.m.,

and at that point we knew it was a recovery effort,? said Davenport. ?It took the team

probably another 45 minutes to an hour to get the grandparents out.? A neighboring cabin

was also struck by the avalanche, but it was mostly shielded by Landolt?s and Busch?s

cabin and suffered only minor damage, Davenport said. At around noon on Friday,

Davenport said, emergency workers heard barking coming from underneath the snow

inside the cabin?s living room. Though they first believed the family?s pet dog had died, the

animal had apparently been pushed through a glass screen into the fireplace, where he

was able to get air through the chimney. ?We were able to get him out. He was scratched

up and scared but otherwise OK,? Davenport said. The debris field at the base of the

avalanche was nearly 200 yards wide, and between 10 and 15 feet deep, Davenport said.

?It?s too early to tell what exactly triggered it, but we had a high avalanche danger based on

the weather we got yesterday. At five o?clock last night the wind just went ballistic, and we

had a lot of snow with what seemed like a high moisture content.? University of

Washington President Lee Huntsman said the deaths were a terrible loss. ?Our hearts go

out to Marsha?s and Bob?s families. Marsha spent her whole career here, was a brilliant

scientist, and a forceful and effective advocate for graduate education both here at the

University and at the national level. The University is in mourning on this very sad day,?

Huntsman said.

~~~~~~~~~END~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

By REBECCA BOONE, Associated Press Writer

BOISE, Idaho - An avalanche crashed down onto a mountainside cabin early Friday morning, filling the home with snow and killing a couple as they slept.

Marsha Landolt, 55, the dean of the University of Washington Graduate School, and her husband,

Robert Busch, 58, were killed in the avalanche, which occurred between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m., the

Camas County Sheriff's Office reported.

Their son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren survived.

A slab of snow along the ridge above the cabin broke loose, triggering the avalanche, said

Kyle Davenport, an administrative assistant at the nearby Soldier Mountain Ski Resort who

assisted in the rescue effort. The bulk of the snow slammed into the structure.

"It looks like somebody just fired the snow through the windows on that whole side of the

building," Davenport said. "The room where the grandparents were found was filled nearly to

the ceiling with snow and the bed was pushed clear against the far wall."

Landolt and Busch's son and daughter-in-law were sleeping in the loft with their three small

children, Davenport said. When they were awakened by the avalanche, the son immediately tried

to dig out his parents.

After about an hour and a half of digging, the son made his way out of the cabin to get help,

Davenport said.

"We got there at about 3:40 a.m., and at that point we knew it was a recovery effort," he

said. "It took the team probably another 45 minutes to an hour to get the grandparents out."

Around noon on Friday, Davenport said, emergency workers heard barking coming from underneath

the snow inside the cabin's living room. Though they first believed the family's pet dog had

died, the animal had apparently been pushed through a glass screen into the fireplace, where

he was able to get air through the chimney.

"We were able to get him out. He was scratched up and scared but otherwise OK," Davenport said.

The debris field at the base of the avalanche was nearly 200 yards wide, and between 10 and 15

feet deep, Davenport said.

Landolt had been dean and a vice provost of the university since 1996, university spokesman

Bob Roseth said. She was previously director of the university's School of Fisheries.

"Our hearts go out to Marsha's and Bob's families," university president Lee Huntsman said.

"The university is in mourning on this very sad day."

Soldier Mountain is in the Sawtooth National Forest about 80 miles east of Boise