INSIDE LOOK: How a helicopter operator rescued skier from Saturday’s deadly avalanche

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Video from the Utah Department of Public Safety shows the heroism of helicopter operators and search and rescue crews.

In the above video, there is helmet and helicopter video showing what it was like to rescue and recover the skiers from Saturday’s deadly avalanche in Millcreek Canyon.

Sgt. Wyatt Weber with UDPS helped get one of the skiers to safety and recover the four bodies.

UDPS was able to recover the four bodies of the skiers the following day on Sunday.

Intermountain Life Flight rescued the three other skiers on Saturday. It is the only civilian air medical program in the U.S. authorized by the FAA to perform hoist rescues.

Weber told ABC4 all it takes is a matter of minutes and added the skiers from Saturday’s deadly avalanche were some of the most prepared he has ever seen is his career.

“Alright have guys on the ground asking for a hoist,” said a helicopter operator. “I have patient three at the same extraction point ready to go when you are.”

Weber said he is always ready to go.

“There they are I got them they are right to your sticks, I am going to swing around,” said Wyatt. “It’s rough to see that many fatalities injuries and things like that you really have to take a step back at that point and kind of out of your mind and focus on the mission.”

The mission was rescue and recovery on Saturday and Sunday. Six people were fully buried, and one was partially. Four people were rescued and four people died.

UDPS was responding to another rescue mission in Emery County Saturday when it first got the call about the Millcreek Canyon avalanche.

This video ABC 4 obtained from the Utah Highway Patrol shows the efforts of the Utah Department of Public Safety.

The teams from both UDPS and Intermountain Life Flight locate the skiers, sends the hoist down, and straps in the person being rescued.

“We put them in a vest and its almost like sitting in a giant hammock,” said Weber.

They then send the hoist back up

Weber said the skiers were all prepared with avalanche beacons.

It helped save the lives of four of the eight. The other four are being memorialized throughout Salt Lake City.

“Pretty much all we do is thumbs up and are you okay, those kinds of things,” said Weber.

The rescue is fast-paced is done in a matter of minutes. The recovery is more methodical.

Weber said taking a step back allows him focus on the mission.

“There’s emotions invovled especially for people that participate in those kinds of activities because they can kind of put themselves in their shoes,” said Weber.

Without the helicopter, it would take several hours for anyone to be able to rescue people off the mountains, especially in the backcountry of Millcreek Canyon.

At the end of the day, as Weber said, he loves bringing people to safety.

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