2 killed in New Year’s Eve avalanches in Montana, Colorado

COOKE CITY, Mont. (AP) — Two people were killed in New Year’s Eve avalanches in Montana and Colorado after heavy snow blanketed much of the West.

Forecasters with the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center say two snowmobilers from Washington were headed uphill near Daisy Pass north of Cooke City, Montana, when one of them triggered a large slide and was swept about 600 vertical feet (183 vertical meters).

The buried rider, who was covered in 5 feet (152 centimeters) of snow, was wearing an avalanche airbag backpack, but it wasn’t deployed. Both riders, whose names have not been released, had shovels and probes, but neither was wearing an avalanche beacon.

Another group of snowmobilers helped search for the missing rider and found his body about an hour later. The avalanche was about 2-4 feet (61-122 centimeters) deep, 500 feet (152 meters) wide and 600 feet (183 meters) long. It broke on weak snow near the bottom of the snowpack.

Also Saturday, a father and his adult son were backcountry skiing near Breckenridge Ski Resort in Colorado when they were caught in an avalanche, according to the Summit County Rescue Group. The father was able to dig himself out, but his son was buried.

A team with a search dog found his body about two hours later. His name has not been released.

Saturday’s accidents marked the second and third avalanche fatalities this winter, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, which tracks the deaths nationally.

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