Accident: Other Regions

Location: Squaw Creek, Cantwell

Fri, March 14th, 2014
One snowmachiner caught, fully buried, recovered and flown to an Anchorage area hospital with serious injuries, later succumbed to injuries on 18 March 2015.
Accident Report

On Saturday morning March 14th, 2015 a group of five snowmachiners began riding from a parking lot near MP 191 on the Parks Highway. All riders were advanced snowmachiners and had at least some familiarity with this region. One member of the party had been riding here for 10 years or more. The objective for the day was to ride in the area of Squaw Creek drainage and access some meadows that the group was familiar with. The victim was the only one in the party of five wearing an avalanche beacon (he also had a shovel, probe and Snow Pulse Airbag) that morning. Although wearing an airbag, it was not in the ‘armed’ position meaning there was not an opportunity to deploy. At least one of the other party members had an avalanche beacon but it was left in the truck; he didn’t recognize this area as avalanche terrain and therefore did not wear it. Three party members (excluding the victim) had shovels and two had probes. No red flags (recent avalanches, shooting cracks or whumphing) were observed during the day. Right before the avalanche occurred, the victim proceeded to side-hill a steep 50-60 foot tall slope in a creek bed. He rode from the looker’s lower left to right, making one pass before turning downhill. He then looped back around for a second pass using his same track (lower left to right) until he got to mid-slope and turned slightly uphill, presumably to climb to the top of the slope. His snowmachine became stuck at this point and with two witnesses watching, the victim jumped off of his machine to the downhill side, sinking up to his waist. One witness stated at the moment of boot penetration, the slope avalanched above the victim and propagated as wide as 1500’. The victim and his machine were very quickly at the bottom of the slope (25 – 30 vertical feet) and snow began piling on top of the victim and the machine.