According to the Utah Avalanche Center, this is the deadliest avalanche in Utah history since 1992 where four others also died.
Officials say four skiers were rescued and hoisted to safety by Life Flight and Utah Department of Public Safety helicopters, Saturday.
“The fastest way to get them off the mountain because people were getting hypothermic was to use two helicopter agencies,” said Wayne Bassham.
Bassham is the commander for Salt Lake County Search and Rescue.
He says, It took more than two hours for those four to be hooked into the fly seat and brought to safety.
The incident all started at 11:40 Saturday morning with a 911 call that dropped and then dispatchers had to keep calling back until they got ahold of someone and finally tracked down their location in Millcreek Canyon.
“The call service as we discovered is incredibly limited,” shares Unified Police Department Sgt. Melody Cutler.
This was an incredible tragedy as four of the skiers unburied themselves, but could not save the other four in the group.
Cutler says everyone had an avalanche beacon. She adds nobody should have been on the backcountry Saturday as avalanche risk was extremely high.
“I’m not sure if it’s the thrill or what it is, but it is really important to pay attention to those things,” shares Cutler. “There have been advisories out recently of very high avalanche danger. That exists. The current conditions and this is a very unfortunate circumstance that with these conditions and it actually happened and resulted in lives being lost.”
Three of rescued skiers are in good condition but one experienced hypothermia.
Bassham says he and about 40 volunteers put their life on the line to rescue the skiers.
“Oh we are all affected by it today, and we are all affected by it tomorrow and then some,” shares Basshman. “It is tragic individuals have lost their lives but it’s part of the job we do. Our main job now and focus is to bring closure to those who are no longer with us.”
This is the third deadly avalanche in as many weeks.
Six people have now died in backcountry avalanches while skiing in 2021.
A GofundMe has been set up to help the families of the victims of the Millcreek Avalanche.