The search was suspended for a man missing in a Washington avalanche on Saturday. Twin avalanches struck on Saturday afternoon near Snoqualmie Pass.
One of them swept away a 60-year-old man and two fellow snowshoers, while the other buried a woman who was dug out but later pronounced dead.
Officers at the King County Sheriff’s Office reported that both victims were snowshoeing at the time of the avalanches. The sport is popular on Snoqualmie Pass, located east of Seattle in the Cascade Mountains.
The man’s companions were also swept up by the wall of snow but were able to find their way out with non life-threatening injuries. The sheriff’s office added that the avalanche swept down on the group at 50 mph. It ran for more than a quarter of a mile.
The other incident happened near the Alpental Ski Area. A woman was buried under six feet of snow for about 45 minutes before a group of snowshoers dug her out. She was alive when she was rescued but suffered from hypothermia and other possible injuries. It took two hours for rescuers to arrive at the scene.
Near white-out conditions prevented rescuers from using a helicopter. They were forced instead to bring the injured woman out by sled. The woman, whose identity has not been released, was declared dead around midnight. A dog who was traveling with her appeared to be fine. The King County Medical Examiner’s office has not yet released her cause of death.
Another showshoer from the group also sustained hypothermia and was helped down the mountain by rescuers. Both avalanches happened within miles of each other around noon.
Avalanches are fairly common in the Cascades during the spring and often pose a danger to showshoers. Ski runs are well-groomed throughout the season, but avalanche control cannot reach every potential hazard area.
The search for the man missing during the avalanche was called off because of extreme conditions. The man’s identity has not yet been released.