Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 1999-03-21
Submitted By: Seth Shaw, UAFC
Place: Sping Canyon, near Coalville
State: UT
Country: USA
Summary: 1 snowmobiler caught, leg broken

A snowmobiler triggered a wet slab to the ground (mud&dirt) on 3-20 in Spring Canyon between the Wasatch and the Uinta mountains. The weather at the DOT site near Alta at 8,700' from the night of 17th to the day of 20th had been 31clr,49sun,32clr, 54sun,35hiovc,49hiovc breezy. Details: NNE, 8,600', 150'wide x 250'distance, others unknown. The victim was turning his sled around above the only exposed rock on the steep slope when he noticed the snow fracturing below the rock, he looked up to see it also fracturing 10 to 15 feet above him. He tried to ride out but was caught. He hit a tree at the bottom of the steep section and hung up on it. He pulled his head to the downhill side of the tree in hopes of an airspace. When the snow stopped his head was 4' under the surface and his legs 6'. His twin brother(the only other person in the area)saw him hit the tree and hoped he was still there. 4 to 5 minutes of digging broke into the airspace on the downhill side of the tree. Another friend showed up after 20 minutes. They had the victim completely dug out in 1.5 hours. He was in shock and helicoptered to a hospital. He suffered a broken tib-fib just below the knee and other muscle and ligament damage. He thought if he hadn't been stopped by the tree near the top of the debris he could have died.