Utah Avalanche Kills Four Backcountry Skiers

An avalanche hit a popular backcountry skiing area in Utah on Saturday, taking the lives of four skiers in their twenties and injuring four others, said authorities, becoming one of the deadliest snowslides in Utah’s history.

“Our backcountry outdoor community is very connected so this type of loss touches many people and really is heartbreaking,” said Jenny Wilson, the mayor of Salt Lake City. “These are people who love doing what they did and lived life to the fullest.”

According to Sgt. Melody Cutler of the Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake, authorities placed the skiing area under a high danger warning after receiving a “faint” distress call around 11:40 a.m. on Saturday, saying that there had been an avalanche in the Wilson Glade area of Wilson Fork.

Cutler said the four survivors were able to dig their way out of the avalanche and rescue others. Unfortunately four skiers were not able to survive the snowslide.

Police later confirmed that the four deceased victims were Sarah Moughamian, 29, Louis Holian and Stephanie Hopkins, both 26, and Thomas Louis Steinbrecher, 23.

According to authorities, the victims were from two separate groups of expert skiers. They were all prepared with necessary avalanche safety gear, such as radios, beacons, and avalanche backpacks.

However, four of the skiers were swept away and killed by the snowslide which was believed to be caused by the group skiing.

“This is a terrible tragedy and our prayers go out to the victims and families involved,” Utahn Gov. Spencer Cox said in a tweet. “We are grateful to the first responders and others who engaged in this rescue and recovery effort.” 

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