Avalanche kills 3 snowmobilers

March 1, 2009 7:32:03 AM PST
A mile-long avalanche near the Wyoming-Idaho state line swept three snowmobilers to their deaths, authorities said Saturday. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

Lincoln County officials said the three victims were among four snowmobilers caught by the snow slide Friday near Alpine Mountain in the Snake River Range. Sgt. Shane Tindall said the fourth person walked out and used his cell phone to call for help.

The survivor, 53-year-old Wade Clark of Soda Springs, Idaho, told authorities that the snowmobilers had dropped off a ridge line and into a draw when they saw the snow slab breaking away. The slide was about 100 yards wide and a mile long.

"They tried to outrun it and they didn't make it," Tindall said.

He said relatively warm temperatures and sunny skies warmed the rocks and melted snow on the south-facing slope. The avalanche danger was listed as moderate when the slide occurred.

Rescuers set off explosive charges to reduce the risk of a second slide before attempting to recover the victims, Tindall said.

The bodies of Robert Clark, 48; Scott Smith, 45, and Bob Tiechert, 55, were recovered about 2 1/2 hours after the slide and were buried under about 3 feet of snow, he said.

At least nine snowmobilers and one skier have been killed in avalanches in Wyoming, Montana and Utah this winter.

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