Recovery effort for man buried in avalanche temporarily suspended

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A 39-year-old Ketchikan man was buried in an avalanche while snowboarding on Dude Mountain Sunday afternoon. A search began on Monday, but has been temporarily suspended because of bad weather.

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Jerry Kiffer is with Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad. He said two snowboarders hiked up to the summit area of the mountain. They were snowboarding when the avalanche was triggered at about noon.

“One person was buried – or presumed to have been buried,” Kiffer said. “The other one used his avalanche beacon, was able to get a signal from the other person, dug for an hour and a half, wasn’t able to locate him. Without cell signal or anyway to get help, he came back down the mountain to get help.”

Kiffer said KVRS was notified at about 5 p.m. At that point, he said it was too dark to start a recovery effort. They had hoped to launch a helicopter on Monday, but weather prevented them from getting close.

Kiffer says crews skied and snowshoed to the site instead. At around noon, they were testing the snow to see whether it was safe to search.

In an interview later on Monday afternoon, Chris John of KVRS said the snow conditions were extremely dangerous, and crews could not search thoroughly. They looked as best they could from stable areas on the mountain, he says, and didn’t see any sign.

The wind was blowing about 50 mph on top of the mountain, and recovery crews were recalled mid-afternoon. John says they will try again when the weather improves, which could be Thursday or Friday.

According to Alaska State Troopers’ online dispatch, the man is Marvin Scott. Next of kin has been notified.

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