Idaho avalanche kills man, injures woman

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Associated Press

Posted on February 17, 2014 at 5:04 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 17 at 5:06 PM

KETCHUM, Idaho (AP) — An avalanche in central Idaho buried four people, killing an Idaho man whose wife survived being buried under the snow for about 90 minutes, officials in Blaine County said.

The sheriff's office said the avalanche occurred shortly after 2 p.m. Sunday in the Smiley Creek area about 36 miles north of Ketchum.

Robert Swanton, 65, and Susan Swanton, 56, of Sutherlin, Ore., were able to extricate themselves and began looking for George Martin Jr., 64, of Bellevue, and his wife, Lesley Martin, 70.

The Swantons found Martin after about an hour, but they were unable to revive him. They couldn't find an avalanche-beacon signal for Lesley Martin, so they rode a snowmobile to the highway to flag down help.

Lesley Martin, who was buried for an estimated 90 minutes, was taken to the hospital for treatment of hypothermia, the sheriff's office said.

An investigation found the slide was triggered when one of the four stepped through the new snow slab and penetrated the old, faceted layer. The collapse traveled uphill and released the avalanche, which ran 1,400 vertical feet and was 300 to 400 feet wide. The debris was approximately 4 to 8 feet deep.

Meanwhile, a friend of the two Wisconsin skiers killed in a Colorado avalanche said Monday that the two were close buddies who loved to spend time on the slopes and mountain-biking trails.

Joey Kindred of Tomah said he used to go skiing with 32-year-old Justin Lentz and 34-year-old Jarrard Law. The two Portage, Wis., men were killed Saturday afternoon.

Lentz and Law were kindhearted and smart, and both knew how to light up a room, Kindred said.

Five people were caught in avalanches over the weekend in Montana.

A 35-year-old woman suffered a broken leg Sunday after she was caught in a snow slide while back-country skiing near Big Sky in southwestern Montana. Gallatin County officials said she ended up partially buried and pinned against a tree.

On Saturday, a snowmobiler triggered an avalanche near Whitefish Mountain Resort that partially buried four people. The Flathead Avalanche Center said all four made it out of the area safely.

On Feb. 11, an avalanche in the Wallowa Mountains of eastern Oregon killed two backcountry skiers and seriously injured two others, officials said.

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