Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 1999-01-29
Submitted By: Mark Moore, NWAC
Place: Blue Mountains
State: OR
Country: USA
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 1 Snowboarder caught buried and killed

Accident: Snowboarder triggered slab slide near Spout Springs Ski Area in

the Blue Mountain of Oregon; 1 snowboarder caught, buried, killed Accident

date: 1/29/99 Location: Near the Spout Springs Ski Area, east-northeast of

Tollgate, OR in the Blue Mountains. Approximately 5000 ft elevation.

Awaiting a more detailed report from the Umatilla National Forest, but

appears that victim triggered a slab that buried him about 3 feet deep.

Ancillary information: NWAC does not specifically forecast for this

mountain range, but had issued an avalanche warning for the Washington

Cascades, Olympics and Mt Hood area for high danger above 4000 feet and

considerable below on Thursday, 1/28/99, and reissued the warning for high

danger at all elevations in the Washington Cascades and Olympics on Friday,

the 29th.

Jeanette White - The Spokesman-Review

Spokane _ Oregon rescue workers dug through snow Saturday to recover the body of a Spokane man who was killed by an avalanche while snowboarding. David Matthew Beegle, 19, had been missing since Friday afternoon, when he was snowboarding with two friends in the Blue Mountains.

Beegle stopped to adjust his snowboard equipment and his companions moved on. A few minutes later, when Beegle didn't catch up, they became concerned, said Sgt. Chuck Anderson, who coordinated the search for the sheriff's office in Union County, Ore.

``When they returned, he wasn't there, but it looked like an avalanche had been through the area,'' Anderson said.

The friends, who last saw Beegle in an area with a 65 percent grade, called for help. Rescuers, fighting powerful wind gusts and blowing snow, had to rappel down to the avalanche site in the Umatilla National Forest.

Conditions had been ideal for an avalanche when the trio passed through, said Anderson.

``There's about 8 feet of snow that's kind of melted and then crusted and hard-packed. Then there's 18 inches of new snow on top of that.''

With help from a rescue dog, searchers found Beegle's body, still wearing the snowboard, under 3 feet of snow about noon Saturday.

No avalanche warnings had been issued, Anderson said. Beegle had been boarding in an ungroomed portion of the Spout Springs ski area.

The mountains, near Tollgate, Ore., are about 40 miles from Whitman College in Walla Walla, where Beegle was a sophomore. Students and staff members from the college helped with the search.

Beegle graduated from Lewis and Clark High School in 1997. He competed on cross-country and track teams.

At Whitman, Beegle studied environmental studies and geology. He was a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity.

``An avid rock climber, he loved the wilderness,'' said Whitman president Tom Cronin. ``His loss has stunned his friends and all of us here at Whitman.''

Memorial services are being planned. He is survived by his parents, Michael and Nina, of Spokane, and a

brother, Michael.