October 27, 2020

Three skiers killed in Wash. Avalanche, 4th survived

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STEVENS PASS, Wash. (AP) — Three skiers were killed Sunday when an avalanche swept them about a quarter-mile down an out-of-bounds canyon at a popular resort, but a fourth skier caught up in the slide was saved by a safety device, authorities said.

The four were among three groups of skiers — about a dozen people in all — making their way through a foot and a half of fresh snow on the back side of Stevens Pass when the avalanche hit. Stevens Pass is in the Cascade Mountains, about 80 miles northeast of Seattle.

All were buried to some extent, but the men who died were swept approximately 1,500 feet down a chute in the Tunnel Creek Canyon area, King County Sheriff’s Sgt. Katie Larson said.

Most of the other skiers, all well-equipped, were able to free themselves and rushed to dig out the victims. They performed CPR on the three men to no avail, Larson said.

The fourth skier who was swept down the mountain, a woman, appeared to avoid a similar fate because of the avalanche safety device she was wearing, Larson said.

ESPN.com identified the survivor as professional skier Elyse Saugstad, who said she used an airbag after the avalanche hit.

The men who died were believed to be in their 30s and 40s.

“Most of the people involved in this were well-known to the ski community up here, especially to the ski patrol,” said Deputy Chris Bedker of the sheriff’s search-and-rescue unit. “It was their friends who they recovered.”

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