Detailed Accident Report

Back to accidents page

Date: 2005-12-27
Submitted By: WWAN
Place: Togwotee Pass/Squaw Basin area
State: WY
Country: USA
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 1 snowmobiler caught, buried, and killed



Searchers find body of Riverton man missing in avalanche

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) -- Searchers on Thursday found the body of a 21-year-old Riverton man missing since Tuesday in an avalanche in the mountains northeast of here.

Capt. Jim Whalen of the Teton County Sheriff's Department said searchers using probes found the body of Jesse Humphries at about 2:25 p.m.

"He was discovered in about 12 feet of snow, so there was quite a bit of snow on top of him," Whalen said. He said crews hoped to remove the body from the mountains on Thursday, although weather conditions and lack of any landing zone in the area prohibited the use of helicopters.

Heavy snow at the scene had delayed searchers from Teton County Search and Rescue from getting into the Togwotee Pass/Squaw Basin area to search for Humphries on Thursday morning, Whalen said. He said searchers got to the scene at about noon.

Humphries was traveling with a friend in the Togwotee Pass/Squaw Basin area on Tuesday morning when he descended from a ridge into a drainage and triggered an avalanche.

"The drainage that he descended was right around a 45-degree, which is significant when you talk about snow country," Whalen said.

The avalanche danger remained high enough that Whalen said search crews in the area had used explosives to set off avalanches ahead of themselves on Wednesday and anticipated that they would have to do so again on Thursday.

The Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center on Thursday issued an avalanche warning for the southern Gallatin and southern Madison ranges, including the Lionhead area near West Yellowstone, Mont. The center said new snow over the past 48 hours was deposited on an extremely weak snowpack, and that the avalanche danger was high on all slopes.

Searchers recovered the body of 21 year-old Jessie Humphries of Riverton yesterday near Togwotee. Humphries was snowmobiling with another Riverton man Tuesday morning when he triggered an avalanche, which buried him. His companion contacted the Teton County Sheriff's Office by cell phone, and searchers looked for the victim until nightfall. The search was picked up again Wednesday, but was unsuccessful. Captain Jim Whalen of the Teton County Sheriff's Office said the searchers got a late start yesterday, due to poor weather conditions, but located the victim's body at around 2:30 under about 12 feet of snow. More than 20 searchers participated in the recovery, using probe poles and search dogs.

Missing Snowmobiler's Body Found

December 29, 2005

By Sarah Lanse

Teton County, WY -

Searchers today found the body of a missing snowmobiler in the mountains northeast of Jackson.

21-year-old Jesse Humphries went missing Tuesday during an avalanche in the Togwotee Pass/Squaw Basin area.

Teton County, Wyoming search and rescue workers found Humphries' body around 2:25 this afternoon.

His body was in the avalanche field, about 12 feet under the snow.

Bad weather conditions in the area forced searchers to head out an hour later than planned