Couple relives scary moments wife was buried, rescued in deadly avalanche at CA ski resort

ByAshley Sharp, CNNWire
Friday, January 12, 2024
Couple relive moments wife was rescued from deadly CA avalanche
A woman buried in the deadly Palisades Tahoe avalanche says she's alive because of the help she received from a stranger.

LAKE TAHOE, Calif. -- A woman buried in an avalanche says she's alive because of the help she received from a stranger.

Janet He spoke to CBS News Sacramento, saying she was skiing at California's Palisades Tahoe resort on Wednesday when she was suddenly swept away.

Joseph Lu captured video moments after the deadly avalanche that killed one person rushed through the KT-22 area of Palisades.

His wife Janet was no where to be found.

"And I don't see her," Lu said. "I'm yelling and yelling and when I realize what may happen, it struck me, so I was using my ski pole frantically punch everywhere and yelling her name."

VIDEO: Palisades Tahoe reopens on high alert after deadly avalanche kills 1, hurts 3

Palisades Tahoe ski resort says it will reopen on Thursday after an avalanche killed a 66-year-old man with Bay Area ties, shutting down operations and launching a big search for survivors.

It was just seconds before that Janet was right behind him when she says she felt the ground slip away.

"The snow was already kind of moving my feet, kind of took me away and swept me off the mountain," He said.

Caught in the avalanche, she fell about 200 feet down the mountain and was buried, Janet remembers.

"I couldn't pull myself up because the snow was so heavy on top of me and I was buried, my face buried in the snow and lucky I had the face mask, so I had some air in the face mask," He said.

In that moment, she knew she could only be still.

"So, I tell myself to calm down," she said. "'Don't panic,' I think because if I panic, I use more air."

VIDEO: Santa Cruz man misses Palisades Tahoe avalanche by minutes, helps skiers navigate

A Santa Cruz man who was snowboarding at the Palisades Tahoe ski resort on Wednesday says he and his friend missed the deadly avalanche my minutes.

Stuck in the snow, she heard a voice from above, another skier at her rescue.

"He says, no worries, I got you," she said. "I think that's the best thing I ever heard in my life I feel like."

Janet snapped a photo with the man who saved her life, processing it all in real time.

"I survived. I could walk. It's okay, I can walk out," He said.

The couple walked down the mountain with no injuries, realizing then and now how lucky they are to be alive.

MORE: Expert gives tips on staying safe while hitting the slopes this ski season

"The risk is inherent. We all know," Lu said. "We just need to respect the mountain, respect the risks that associate with that."

The couple are now holding each other closer.

"You realize time and life, how treasured it is," Lu said.

It was a close call with an unstoppable force of nature that couldn't wipe away both love and devotion between husband and wife, and even the kindness of a stranger.

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