Avalanche Accident latest update
|Type of Report|
|Observer name||Type of Reporter||Location|
|Keith Stebbings||WAC Staff||Southern Wallowas|
|Mode of Travel:|
2-14-14, 17:15 PST. Final Report of Evening
WAC has learned that a recovery team was deployed today and retrieved the two bodies from the backcountry. When Baker County Search and Rescue releases a closing statement of the mission and WAC completes our long form accident report we will publish both on our website. WAC does not expect to update this page further in the coming days.
2-14-14, 13:20 PST.
The WAC Team has returned from Halfway. We anticipate submitting the long form report to the National Avalanche Center late next week. It will be available on our site. We will update this page only as new information related to the investigation becomes available.
2-13-14, 12:20 PST. Updated information from WAC investigation team onsite
The WAC team spent the morning on preparing a report and providing additional support for the body recovery effort. 2 members of the WAC team ended up staying in Halfway last night. An unexpected weather window resulted in clearing skies and wind in the valley. A new photo of the incident area is posted on this page below. We have no additional information about the status of the recovery operation.
2-12-14, 20:05 PST. Final report of evening:
Both injured subjects enroute by ambulance to awaiting helicopter for flight to Boise. WAC investigative team leaving Baker IC command post enroute for home. Wallowa County SAR returning home after assisting Baker SAR. Baker SAR wrapping up for the evening but work not complete. Recovery plan options for retrieving the two bodies still on the mountain are being weighed. Weather and avalanche hazard remains elevated so first concern is recovery team safety.
2-12-14, 18:40 PST. Updated information from WAC investigation team onsite:
Weather window did not last. Alternate plan to have all rescue team members and both injured subjects take snowmobile and sno-cat to an awaiting ambulance near Halfway, OR. They are currently on Carson Grade. Subjects will transfer to ambulance then to awaiting helicopter in Richland, OR and on to Boise hospital.
2-12-14, 16:28 PST. Updated information from WAC investigation team onsite:
Blackhawk helicopter left scene some time ago and replaced by a Chinook on way to accident area. Chinook taking advantage of a brief weather window awaits arrival of injured via snowmobile and snowcat at LZ. Seven member Wallowa County SAR team is now supporting Baker County SAR in evacuation effort. WAC investigators have completed witness interviews but info not ready to be released.
2-12-14, 13:35 PST. Confirmed information from WAC investigation team onsite:
2 injured being moved toward snowcat. Blackhawk is on ground waiting atop Carson Hill.
2-12-14, 12:31 PST. Confirmed information from WAC investigation team onsite:
Party of 8 total. Four caught in avalanche. Two deceased (a guide, and a client) awaiting recovery. Two seriously injured awaiting evacuation: one female with 2 broken legs and one broken arm, one male with a broken leg.
Three uninjured party members have made it out of the backcountry safely to a location near Halfway and are being interviewed at this writing by WAC personnel. One uninjured guide continues to offer assistance to the injured in the backcountry. Late yesterday an EMT was dropped to the scene to provide advanced care and remains at the scene as of this writing.
Over eight inches of snow has fallen since the accident and it continues snowing heavily with very strong winds inhibiting helicopter evacuation attempts.
Avalanche crown fracture occurred within the Cornucopia area (Little Eagle Creek) on a WSW aspect at between 7200' and 8000' and ran (dropped) 1000' vertical.
At table: Michael Hatch and Max Forgensi (L to R). Brian Sather photo. These three folks make up the WAC investigation team. This is Baker IC temporary command post offered by the Panhandlers Snowmobile Club for use during this emergency.
View looking north from near Halfway. The avalanche occurred on the riddge sloping up to the right from the middle of the photo. Photo was taken this morning 2-13-14.
Snow Pit Diagram: