Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2008-01-28
Submitted By: WWAN
Place: Tokopah Canyon in Sequoia National Park
State: CA
Country: USA
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 2 hikers caught and carried. 1 buried and killed

Preliminary Report from the NPS

*Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (CA)

Skier Killed By Avalanche*

Morgan Cowles, 39, of Santa Barbara, California, was caught and buried by an avalanche in upper Tokopah Canyon in Sequoia NP on Monday, January 28th. Cowles and companion Jason Gardner were skiing through the area at the time. Gardner uncovered Cowles, but he had already expired. Gardner was found shortly after the avalanche and was in good condition. Additional details are pending. [Submitted by Kip Knapp, Acting Chief Ranger]

***MEDIA REPORTS***

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Avalanche victim identified by park officials

Man and friend were apparently experienced in winter hiking but caught by storm.

By Tim Sheehan / The Fresno Bee

01/30/08 12:20:03Related Content

State's latest avalanche victim killed in Sequoia

The man who died Monday in an avalanche in Sequoia National Park was an experienced winter hiker prepared for possible avalanche danger but got caught with his friend in unexpected whiteout conditions.

The victim was identified today as Morgan Cowles, 39, of Santa Barbara, according to the Tulare County Sheriff/Coroner's office and park officials.

Cowles and his hiking companion, whose name was not released, were located Monday by rescue teams after the pair were reported overdue by relatives late Sunday.

Park spokeswoman Alexandra Picavet reported that both men were experienced in winter snow conditions and each was equipped with an avalanche beacon -- a device that helps rescuers find victims buried under the snow. Picavet added that both men apparently followed safe practices for traveling in avalanche areas, but apparently lost a trail in deep snow as they hiked Monday from Heather Lake, about four miles from Wolverton Meadow.

Rescuers reported that both men were swept about 200 yards by the snowslide as they crossed a steep slope.

More unstable snow in the area prevented rescuers from recovering Cowles' body until Tuesday.